Tom Bossert, ex-DHS adviser under Trump, calls for urgent action to tackle suspected Russian cyber attack

“The magnitude of this ongoing attack is hard to overstate,” said Tom Bossert, who spearheaded the government’s cybersecurity efforts, including the response to Russian interference in the 2016 elections before he was expelled in April 2018, in an op – ed. He added that “it will take years to know for sure which networks the Russians control and which just occupy them”.

“The remediation effort alone will be enormous,” he writes, adding that “entirely new networks must be built – and isolated from compromised networks.”

U.S. officials are grappling with the widespread cyberattack after cybersecurity firm FireEye and software firm SolarWinds, which is used by a number of federal civilian agencies for network management, recently confirmed their systems have been compromised.

At least three U.S. government agencies – the Departments of Homeland Security, Agriculture and Commerce – have been compromised by the hack, along with private sector companies in the consulting, technology, telecom and energy industries.

While the exact scope and extent of the hack is still being determined, it is already becoming clear that this is one of the most significant breaches against the US government in years.

Trump himself must not yet acknowledge the hack and choose instead to remain publicly focused on spreading disinformation about the 2020 election and trying to reverse the results. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Tuesday that the Trump administration is “scrutinizing the data breach” and, of course, takes any form of cyberhacks very seriously. “

In his op-ed piece Wednesday, Bossert said the US and its allies should “publicly and formally attribute responsibility for these hacks.”

“If it is Russia, President Trump must make it clear to (Russian President) Vladimir Putin that these actions are unacceptable,” he wrote. The Russian Embassy in Washington has vehemently denied any involvement.

Bossert called the National Defense Authorization Act, which Congress passed but Trump has vowed to veto, a “ piece of legislation to be signed ” in the wake of the cyber-attack, which, among other cybersecurity provisions, would authorize the Department of Homeland Security to hunting identification threats on federal networks.

He directly called on Trump to “ get past his grievances over the election and rule for the remainder of his term. This moment requires unity, purpose and discipline. Such a brutal breach of this magnitude and scope cannot be tolerated by any sovereign nation, ”he said.

Meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden must make plans to “take charge of this crisis” and that Biden and Trump’s teams must “find a way to work together.”

“President Trump is on the verge of leaving behind a federal government, and perhaps many major industries that have been endangered by the Russian government,” Bossert wrote. “He must use everything he can to protect the United States and punish the Russians severely.”

The US is “sick, distracted and now being cyberattacked” and “leadership is essential,” he wrote.

Zachary Cohen, Vivian Salama, Alex Marquardt and CNN’s Brian Fung contributed to this report.