Though President-elect Donald Trump has yet to nominate new leaders for the government’s two largest cybersecurity-focused agencies — the departments of Defense and Homeland Security — the recent arrival of three congressional cybersecurity leaders to the transition team may give some indication for how the future commander-in-chief will approach the challenges associated with a hostile cyberspace.
House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., were recently added to Trump’s official White House transition team. Each lawmaker has helped steer cybersecurity-related legislation in the 114th Congress.
The appointments come shortly after the Republican president-elect appeared in a video calling for Defense Department and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff “to develop a comprehensive plan to protect America’s vital infrastructure from cyberattacks and all other form of attacks.” Trump included this plan in a list of “executive actions we can take on day one to restore our laws and bring back our jobs.” If pursued, this approach would deviate from the current framework, in which DHS is the primary defender responsible for spotting and stopping cyberattacks aimed at U.S. infrastructure.
Nunes, a veteran lawmaker who has also been linked to the Director of National Intelligence job, co-sponsored the House version of cyber-information sharing legislation, or CISA, that became law in early 2016. Beyond legislation, the Californian has garnered respect from intelligence, law enforcement and defense officials in the Obama administration.
In the past, Blackburn has rallied against “top-down regulations” in the cyber arena. She sits on the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. In early 2015, Blackburn co-sponsored a bill that would create basic security and disclosure standards for companies that store consumer data.
Although she has proven to be an influential House member on cybersecurity legislation, Blackburn came under fire in October for what appeared to be a lack of basic knowledge as it pertains to distributed denial of service attacks — an increasingly popular technique hackers use to disrupt online services and properties — during an appearance on CNN.
Marino serves on the House Homeland Security Committee, an especially active congressional body in terms of introducing cybersecurity-related legislation. He previously co-sponsored the Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad Act. The bill would limit the Justice Department’s ability to access data stored by U.S. multinational corporations.