The White House on Tuesday issued new instructions on how government agencies should respond to major cyber security attacks, in an attempt to combat perceptions that the Obama administration has been sluggish in addressing threats from sophisticated hacking adversaries, Reuters reports. The announcement comes amid reports that hackers working for Russia may have engineered the leak of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee in an attempt to influence the outcome of the upcoming presidential election. Motherboard adds: George W. Bush’s Homeland Security Advisory System — the color-coded terrorism “threat level” indicator that became a symbol of post-9/11 fear mongering — is getting its spiritual successor for hacking: the “Cyber Incident Severity Schema.” President Obama announced a new policy directive Tuesday that will codify how the federal government will respond to hacking incidents against both the government and private American companies. […] The Cyber Incident Severity Schema ranges from white (an “unsubstantiated or inconsequential event”) to black (a hack that “poses an imminent threat to the provision of wide-scale critical infrastructure services, national government stability, or to the lives of U.S. persons”) , with green, yellow, orange, and red falling in between. Any hack or threat of a hack rated at orange or above is a “significant cyber incident” that will trigger what the Obama administration is calling a “coordinated” response from government agencies. As you might expect, there are many unanswered questions here, and the federal government has announced so many cyber programs in the last few years that it’s hard to know which, if any of them, will actually make the US government or its companies any safer from hackers.
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