DC's digital shield: Cybersecurity ramps up for Trump inauguration

The Secret Service will be hard at work protecting against both physical and digital threats during President-elect Trump’s inauguration Friday.

Fox News reported this week that Secret Service cybersecurity personnel will be deployed throughout the Washington area, monitoring digital infrastructure along the inaugural parade route.

“For the Secret Service, the biggest cybersecurity pain point when it comes to the inauguration or other events where the president is physically present is definitely with critical infrastructure,” former Secret Service agent Larry Johnson told Fox News.com via email Thursday. “The Secret Service will be deeply involved in monitoring and protecting all critical systems within a 50 mile radius (power, cellular, water, etc.) from any type of remote access, network intrusion or interference, which could be done by a foreign government or independent actor.”

Johnson, who is now the Chief Strategy Officer of cybersecurity company CyberSponse, explained that agents will be watching closely for any unusual network activity and even power surges. “They'll be monitoring for any anomalous activity on those networks with full probes and sensors (they develop the strategy months in advance; they start implementing it closer to the event), as well as any power usage fluctuations,” he said.


The digital security encompasses a range of Inauguration Day events. The Secret Service’s Critical Systems Protection Division, for example, is also safeguarding the security of digital systems within sites that the president-elect and vice president-elect will visit on Friday evening.

Managing both physical security and cybersecurity on Inauguration Day is no easy task, according to Mark Testoni, CEO of SAP National Security Services (SAP NS2).

“Tomorrow’s inauguration presents several evolving elements of complexity. First are the significant responsibilities on the shoulders of government agencies charged with securing the physical area around the inaugural itself and other activities in the city,” he told FoxNews.com via email. “Mix in the substantial protest activity with its potential for disturbances.  Then add the dynamics of protecting and monitoring the cyber dimension.”

Set against this difficult backdrop, speed is essential to analysts and law enforcement when discovering, qualifying and mitigating threats, according to the security expert.


Experts have already warned that the Trump White House will be a major target for hackers. The incoming president’s Twitter account, for example, is likely in the hacking crosshairs, according to experts.

Trump will continue using his @realDonaldTrump account when he takes office, he told The Times of London in an interview published Monday. Trump, who has 20.1 million Twitter followers, said that he won’t personally be taking over the @POTUS government account used by President Obama.

In a tweet to Trump earlier this week the Anonymous hacking group warned that the president-elect will “regret the next four years.”

Fox News’s Matthew Dean contributed to this article.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers