White House kicks infosec team to curb in IT office shakeup

Photograph of the White House on a sunny day.

Enlarge / The White House is kicking its information security team to the curb. (credit: Prasit photo / Getty Images)

An internal White House memo published today by Axios reveals that recent changes to the information operations and security organizations there have left the security team in tumult, with many members headed for the door. And the chief of the White House’s computer network defense branch—who wrote the memo after submitting his resignation—warned that the White House was likely headed toward another network compromise and theft of data.

The White House Office of the Chief Information Security Officer was set up after the 2014 breach of an unclassified White House network by Russian intelligence—a breach discovered by a friendly foreign government. But in a July reorganization, the OCISO was dissolved and its duties placed under the White House Office of the Chief Information Officer, led by CIO Ben Pauwels and Director of White House IT Roger L. Stone. Stone was pulled from the ranks of the National Security Council where he was deputy senior director for resilience policy. (Stone is not related to indicted Republican political consultant Roger J. Stone.)

The resulting changes have put an emphasis more on convenience than security. The Office of Administration at the White House has reportedly been purging information security staffers while responsibility for cybersecurity is outsourced from the streamlined IT operations team. In August, White House CISO Joe Schatz left the White House for a tech consulting job. And according to the memo, senior security experts have been leaving en masse since then as the White House has become increasingly hostile to the information security team.

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