By Lucia Mutikani
WASHINGTON – Fox News talk show host Sean Hannity ripped into US government data on Friday, saying Vice President Joe Biden was taking credit for job growth and declaring that Biden was doing all he could to hide the extent of the country’s cybersecurity troubles.
Hannity, also a contributor to News Corp’s Fox News, claimed in a post on Twitter that Biden had not done enough to secure the nation’s networks since becoming vice president, including a failure to ensure that any contact with Cuba, where cyberattacks had recently been detected, would not be a liability.
“This is exactly why Joe Biden is being publicly trash-talked and openly humiliated,” Hannity said in the post. “He is ultimately responsible for the state of cybersecurity in the USA. Not knowing the issues is a complete ass kicker.”
The US Cyber Threat Assessment report that Biden is quoted as saying – “It’s high time we’ve got serious cyber dialogue with Cuba” – was released in March.
It said Cuba had an active and ongoing offensive cyber campaign “against US and its allies” that was likely intended to influence public opinion and political processes. The government of Fidel Castro’s communist revolution had engaged in the malicious use of computer networks to influence the political process and limit information flow, it said.
The report did not include information that the US has detected a major cyberattack against the United States or provide any details.
In the speech that Biden was quoted as making, he was discussing a cybersecurity agreement signed between the United States and Cuba after the two countries announced plans for talks. The agreement calls for both countries to publicly release regular reports on how they are protecting against cyber attacks.
Hannity, who has railed against cyber attacks in recent years, often citing himself as a victim, took to Twitter and social media to lash out at Biden after The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter, reported that Biden would be touting how the administration had worked with Cuba to address cyber threats, including against the United States.
Hannity tweeted: “It’s Biden’s fault the economy is so slow-growing; it’s Biden’s fault that we have no cybersecurity, and Biden is using his Chinese buddy’s internet scam – the Chinx hackers – to rail against Russia.”
A spokesman for the vice president’s office had no immediate comment. Fox News, in a statement released on Friday, referred to the vice president’s Feb. 17 speech.
“I agree with the assessment that cybersecurity is a global challenge – that is why we’re bringing together global partners – traditional adversaries, authoritarian states, and other nations – to develop a comprehensive approach to this threat,” Biden said at the time.
The Journal’s front-page article, published after the White House issued a statement on Friday about Biden’s remarks, did not include details about the Chinx incident or mention anything about Havana. It also did not say if Biden was referring to a real case of cybercrime, including stealing money, or to fictitious attacks, such as ones designed to spread panic.
The report said Cuban officials were surprised when Biden described the Obama administration’s efforts to win US information access in the communist island nation.
(Additional reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Tom Brown)