If the public is to stay informed about foreign hacking that the executive branch wanted to keep quiet, whistleblowers in the intelligence community would have to come forward to leak important findings. But under President Obama, leakers have faced steep penalties for sharing classified information with the press or the public—and Trump seems far more hostile toward transparency, as evidenced by his stances on journalism and free speech.
In the absence of official reports about hacking, the private sector would have a bigger role to play, too. Crowdstrike, an American cybersecurity company, helped the Democratic National Committee investigate the data breach that led to the leak of tens of thousands of emails and documents. The company publicly shared its findings—that the intrusion originated in Russia—in June, a month after it discovered the breach.
For the past four years, Obama’s Justice Department has showed a willingness to name and shame state sponsors of hacking. In 2012, it placed five Chinese criminals on its “cyber most-wanted” list; since then, it’s added hackers from Iran, Syria, Russia, and elsewhere, bringing a measure of transparency to the inner workings of state-sponsored cybercrime.