By Michael Zorach-PeretzUpdated April 30, 2019 12:37:47President Donald Trump has barred a top telecommunications engineer from entering the U.S. for the next ten years after he allegedly breached cybersecurity laws, according to reports.
The White House released the decision Wednesday, the day after a cybersecurity report from the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general revealed that the engineer, who has not been named, breached policies regarding “sensitive sources and methods” in his work.
According to The Washington Post, the White House said in a statement Wednesday that the president’s ban was part of a broader effort to “protect our Nation from cyberthreats and ensure that Americans are not compromised by criminals or foreign governments.”
The inspector general’s report, which examined the engineer’s work, concluded that the NSA-led National Security Agency (NSA) was responsible for breaking into computers used by U.K.-based mobile phone company Orange and other mobile phone companies and for stealing sensitive personal information from them.
“This action by the White President, is another example of his dangerous approach to cybersecurity and the United States’ role as a global leader in combating cybercrime,” NSA spokesperson Vanee Vines said in the statement.
“While this may seem like an isolated incident, the recent actions of this senior engineer demonstrate that the Administration has failed to provide the leadership it promised in 2016 to keep our nation safe.”
A former NSA employee who spoke with The Post said the engineer was not only a “key” member of the NSA’s cyber workforce but also an experienced, “high-performing” analyst.
The official said the intelligence community believed that the incident was likely the work of the Chinese government.
The inspector’s report was released just days after Trump, who had threatened to shut down the NSA, took office.
The NSA is facing renewed scrutiny after the Inspector General’s report said the agency did not do enough to prevent the breach.
The report found that senior officials in the NSA did not immediately notify officials from the FBI, which is leading the investigation, and the FBI’s cybersecurity unit, which was conducting the investigation.
The Inspector General found that some of the government’s cybersecurity experts did not have sufficient experience to protect critical infrastructure, according the report.
The IG also said that the intelligence agency’s cybersecurity team was “too slow to identify and stop the cyberthreat” because of a lack of resources.
The Federal Communications Commission has since approved a new cybersecurity plan, which the NSA and the U-2 spy plane, which operates out of the Air Force base in Langley, Virginia, have agreed to implement.
A spokesman for the White Trump said the executive order, issued on Wednesday, “reaffirms the President’s commitment to a robust and efficient cybersecurity system that works for the American people.”
“The President will continue to review and refine this cybersecurity strategy as necessary,” the spokesman said in an emailed statement.
Trump’s ban on the engineer comes as the president is under pressure to restore the government to its former security posture, as the FBI and Department of Justice probe the cyberattack.
The president is also trying to make good on a campaign pledge to restore law and order after his election loss, and to make it easier for American businesses to locate, hire and fire employees.