Trump Pick to Focus on Cyber as Homeland Security Adviser

Several news outlets today reported on the announcement that President-elect Trump has chosen Tom Bossert to be homeland security adviser.   The President-elect particularly praised Bossert’s expertise in the cyber realm.  One report said that Bossert will have an elevated status in the administration and will be “independent.”   Bossert previously served in the Bush administration, where he helped author one of the nation’s first cyber strategies. He has been President of the risk management firm Civil Defense Solutions, and a Zurich Cyber Risk Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative.

Another article quoted Bossert as stating that the U.S. “must work toward [a] cyber doctrine that reflects the wisdom of free markets, private competition and the important but limited role of government in establishing and enforcing the rule of law, honoring the rights of personal property, the benefits of free and fair trade, and the fundamental principles of liberty.”


Much of the focus on cybersecurity since the November elections has shifted from alleged Russian meddling in the election to what the new year and new administration will mean for cybersecurity.   The vast majority of that has been speculation and a wide variety of recommendations for President Trump.   The announcement today provides the first solid insight as to what Trump’s cyber policies may consist of.

I feel it is worth noting that Trump feels confident enough in Bossert to give him independent status.  The WSJ article referenced above claimed that Bossert will have the same level of authority as Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.  With such great deference given to Bossert, it is possible that he be one of, if not the lead player in shaping cyber policy for the next four years.

Included below is the Bush administration cyber strategy that Bossert is reported to have helped author.  The strategy was mainly a laissez-faire approach.  The goals of the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace were (1) prevent cyber attacks against America’s critical infrastructure;  (2) reduce national vulnerability to cyber attacks; and (3) minimize damage and recovery time from cyber attacks that do occur.  These are all fairly obvious objectives.   The administration also placed most of the burden on the private sector, claiming that it was “best equipped” to handle it.  The government did have a role in limited situations, but it wasn’t much.  The strategy really focused on the development of public-private partnerships, an idea we still see frequently today in the cyber realm.

Bossert’s recent quote about his views of the government’s role in cyber seem to parallel the key components of the 2003 National Strategy.  While the President-elect’s campaign and actions have yet to yield any clear cyber positions, it is possible that today’s announcement has provided some insight into what may be a limited role for the government in coming years.



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Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic. Full biography

Shelby E. Mann

Ryan D. WhiteShelby is a second year law student at the Syracuse University College of Law. She is the 2018-9 Editor in Chief of the Syracuse Law Review, as well as a member of the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and the senior editor for the Syrian Accountability Project. During her final year at the University of Missouri, she served as a full-time news producer for ABC 17 News. Shelby spent her first summer of law school at the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office in Memphis, Tenn., in the Public Corruption and Economic Crimes Unit. Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

Anna Maria Castillois 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography


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