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Trump Outlines Plan to Tighten Government Cybersecurity, Postpones Order

by Peter Alexander. and Jon Schuppe /  / Updated 
Image: President Trump Returns To The White House
Upon returning from Philadelphia, President Donald Trump walks along the West Wing Colonnade on his way to the Oval Office at the White House, Jan. 26, 2017 in Washington, D.C.Drew Angerer / Getty Images

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President Trump was expected to sign an executive order Tuesday outlining his approach to protecting federal agencies from hackers. The White House said Tuesday afternoon that the signing had been postponed, but did not give a reason.

Trump met earlier in the day with cybersecurity experts at the White House, during which they discussed the president's goals.

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The order is expected to put heads of all federal agencies on notice that they themselves would be responsible for making sure their electronic defenses are sufficient, a White House official told reporters. That is to keep them from passing the buck to lower-level staffers, the official said.

At the top this effort will be the Office of Management and Budget, which will examine the cybersecurity risks across the executive branch, the official said.

“I will hold my cabinet secretaries and agency heads accountable, totally accountable for the cyber security of their organizations which we probably don’t have as much, certainly not as much as we need," Trump said just before the afternoon meeting.

To his immediate right sat his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who Trump said would be leading the initiative, along with former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and homeland security adviser Tom Bossert. Trump's national security adviser, Michael Flynn, sat on the other side of Kushner.

The fixes will include a requirement for all agencies to update their information technology systems, and working with private industries, including utilities, to shore up protection of the electrical grid and other "critical infrastructure," Trump said.

Related: More Than 4 Billion Data Records Were Stolen Globally in 2016

Trump veered from prepared remarks to talk about the hacking of the Democratic National Committee during the presidential campaign, allegedly by Russia. The breach led to the leak of internal emails, while a hack of the Republican National Committee did not. "We had a very strong defense system against hacking," Trump said.

The president's new cybersecurity plan, the administration said, is based on recommendations that were originally made under President Obama.

"The executive order is the first step the president is taking to address new security challenges of the 21st century," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said in an afternoon briefing.

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