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Chris Krebs goes gently into that good night

So now Chris Krebs has been fired. The only refreshing part of this news is that Trump didn’t even pretend it was because of misconduct or incompetence, instead saying:

"The recent statement by Chris Krebs on the security of the 2020 Election was highly inaccurate, in that there were massive improprieties and fraud - including dead people voting, Poll Watchers not allowed into polling locations, “glitches” in the voting machines which changed votes from Trump to Biden, late voting, and many more. Therefore, effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated as Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency."

In other words, he was fired for telling the truth. The fact that this is no longer surprising doesn’t make it any the less shocking.

Any opinions expressed in this blog post are strictly mine and are not necessarily shared by any of the clients of Tom Alrich LLC. If you would like to comment on what you have read here, I would love to hear from you. Please email me at tom@tomalrich.com.

Discussions

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Nov 18, 2020

Tom, don't rule out the possibility Krebs will be re-hired by Biden. He's expressed willingness to re-hire other competent career public servants fired by Trump.

Tom Alrich's picture
Tom Alrich on Nov 19, 2020

I'm not at all worried about Krebs' future. Someone in the WaPo said this morning that other people in senior cyber positions have left and had their salary increase 10-20X. The loss is the American people's, although I hope Biden does try to re-hire him. Whether he'll accept is the question.

Karen Marcus's picture
Karen Marcus on Nov 25, 2020

I had the same thought, Bob. I think that would be a good move for Biden. 

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Nov 18, 2020

I'll admit I wasn't familiar with Krebs before the Tweet in question yesterday. Had he made any specific moves regarding utility cybersecurity that should be noted and remembered? 

Tom Alrich's picture
Tom Alrich on Nov 18, 2020

CISA is in charge of letting all organizations know about vulnerabilities in the software they use. One of the groups within CISA is the ICS-CERT, which lets users of industrial control systems (which includes the systems that run the grid) know of vulnerabilities in those. They do a good job.

There is the little matter of the Russians, CISA (or one of its predecessors) was doing a great job of investigating an extensive Russian effort to compromise US utilities by first attacking vendors. After the Wall Street Journal wrote about it in July 2018 https://www.wsj.com/articles/russian-hackers-reach-u-s-utility-control-rooms-homeland-security-officials-say-1532388110 the whole effort suddenly shut down. Krebs was a higher-up in CISA at the time, but he was just taking orders. The order without doubt came from the White House. I wrote a lot of posts about this in the past, but maybe I'll write a single post (or a small book!) about this someday. It wasn't a great day for cybersecurity in the US.

Richard Brooks's picture
Richard Brooks on Nov 18, 2020

I don't believe anyone could possibly argue with Chris Krebs technical chops. I do believe CISA could have taken a more collaborative and leadership approach in bringing together/aligning the various cybersecurity initiatives taking place across government, industries and standards developers. I'll admit, that is a difficult dragon to slay, but I think CISA is the most appropriate entity to lead such an initiative.

I would grade Chris Krebs CISA accomplishments with an A; certainly not worthy of termination, Tom.

Tom Alrich's picture

Thank Tom for the Post!

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