Donal Trump is expected to sign an executive order on cybersecurity today, as reports in Russia link the recent arrests of cyber experts to the Kremlin’s alleged hacking of the US election.
The presidential order is set to call for several reviews of the government’s cybersecurity posture and offensive capabilities, a source told Reuters.
Trump campaigned on a promise to improve the nation’s cybersecurity, frequently decrying his opponent’s use of personal email for state business when she was secretary of state.
However, his election has been overshadowed by suggestions, now supported by his intelligence agencies, that he was helped to victory by Kremlin hackers – both via their spreading of false news and their theft and subsequent dissemination of damaging private Democrat emails.
Even Trump has now admitted that “as far as hacking I think it was Russia” – although he refuses to believe this had an impact on the election outcome.
The tale has now taken another turn with the arrest on charges of treason of three cybersecurity experts: Kaspersky Lab’s Ruslan Stoyanov, a former FSB intelligence officer; Sergei Mikhailov, a current FSB officer; and hacker Dmitry Dokuchayev.
Some reports have suggested that the arrests are linked to the explosive dossier produced by former British intelligence man Christopher Steele, which alleges the Russians have compromising material on Trump that makes him vulnerable to blackmail.
There are rumors that the murder of former KGB general Oleg Erovinkin was also linked, as he was the aide to one of Putin’s closest allies and a possible source for Steele’s report.
It’s possible that the news of the arrests, especially the Kaspersky Lab researcher, was “too big not to leak” – even in a country where the authorities have near total control over the media, according to Quartz.