Shutdown Eroded Feds’ Ability to Set Cyber Strategies, Say Lawmaker and Ex-DHS Officials

During the partial government shutdown, House Homeland Security Committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and former DHS officials said it was hampering federal officials’ ability to anticipate and proactively address cyberthreats.

“We can kind of address things as they come, but we can’t look forward and do additional mitigation and other kinds of things that we normally do,” warned Thompson. Caitlin Durkovich, a former DHS assistant secretary for infrastructure protection, explained, “A lot of the day-to-day [DHS cybersecurity work] is happening, it’s the bigger, strategic stuff that’s not.”

While ongoing intrusion-detection systems were in place and operating, forward-looking initiatives such as election security and vulnerability assessments of critical systems were stalled.

Speaking the day before the president would agree to end the shutdown, former DHS secretary Jeh Johnson said, “If this shutdown ended tomorrow, I fear that the damage already done to our security will be months, if not years.”

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