President Barack Obama recently declared October as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. It makes sense to highlight this issue now since cybersecurity is making headlines. Every day, a new breach of personal data or leaked photos causes ripples in our social and political spheres. The amount of times you hear the name WikiLeaks shows the relevance that hackers and the overall cybersecurity realm is playing in our current political climate.
Someone wishing to make an informed choice in the upcoming election will undoubtedly consider cybersecurity. Sadly, the state of the rhetoric surrounding this election is such that the substance of what either side says often gets lost in the noise.
In response, we've put together this quick summary of cybersecurity, as well as where both candidates stand on it.
What Is Cyber Security?
"Our daily life, economic vitality, and national security depend on a stable, safe, and resilient cyberspace." (Department of Homeland Security)
Cybersecurity is the shield that protects the fabric of our infrastructure from the hordes of malicious actors out there who wish to do us harm. It also keeps your neighbor from streaming Narcos on your Wi-Fi.
Cyberspace is a loose term describing the network connecting all the electronic and computational technology backing our infrastructure. Simply stated, everything from entertainment to transportation and communication relies on technological means to accomplish the demand of their daily tasks. "Cyberspace" is the realm in which they communicate. This domain requires an entire new standard of security procedures. This change leaves modern society open to sabotage and subterfuge through technological means.
Cybersecurity is the bouncer to the party that is our technological world.
More and more, the mechanisms that make up our national defense and economic infrastructure rely on technology. The American Military is so powerful that our Navy could annihilate, without issue, the entirety of the rest of the navies on the globe combined.
In the face of this reality, those who wish to do harm to our nation must look to other means with which to do so. Many experts feel that the Achilles heel of our national defense is its reliance on mechanization and our inability to match our investment in cybersecurity with that of traditional physical security.
That is why the tone our leaders set in securing our technology well-being matters.
What Does Hillary Clinton Say about Cybersecurity?
"As president, I will make it clear that the United States will treat cyberattacks just like any other attack. We will be ready with serious political, economic, and military responses." (Hillary Clinton) Detractors argue that the State Department under Hillary Clinton was one of the worst government agencies at protecting its computer networks.
Hillary Clinton is fighting back against these claims of aloofness towards security with a renewal of strong rhetoric against the threats posed by foreign hackers. Hillary Clinton has made it clear in recent weeks that she is firmly putting her foot down on the side of toughening up and showing muscle at the geopolitical level.
For Good or Bad, She May Be Stuck Supporting the CNAP
It makes sense that Hillary's plans will center on supporting the recent actions of President Obama. In February, President Obama announced the Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP) to improve the cybersecurity capabilities of the Federal Government. Now that it exists, CNAP will likely be at the heart of any reformations Hillary makes in the cybersecurity realm.
This new federal initiative will be forming commissions that plan to set the next decade of cybersecurity policy. The CNAP may be the groundwork for a successful new cybersecurity framework under Hillary's watch, or the lightning rod for Conservative scorn should our national security fall prey to future cyber attacks.
What Does Donald Trump Say about Cybersecurity?
"I am a fan of the future, and cyber is the future." (Donald Trump)
Previously, Donald Trump tended to focus less on the particular subject of cybersecurity, but rather condemned the general attitude our nation has had towards safety and global positioning. This changed a bit when Donald Trump made specific comments regarding the state of our cybersecurity this week.
On October 3, Trump gave a speech at a retired American Warriors PAC event in Herndon, Virginia where he attempted to clarify his position on cybersecurity, saying:
"I will make certain that our military is the best in the world in both cyber offense and defense. As a deterrent against attacks on our critical resources, the United States must possess and has to have the unquestioned capability to launch crippling cyber counterattacks. And I mean crippling. Crippling."
The general takeaway from this speech and past comments Trump has made is that he supports the message of "Strength," the current trends in government (formation of CNAP covered under Hillary's Policies), and perhaps a consolidation of the current positions that exist in the cyber realm. Like Clinton, he acknowledges a need for strength without offering any concrete solutions or policies.
Generally, Trump's comments in this area have revolved around attacking Clinton's perceived weakness regarding the topic.
Neither candidate has released set guidelines on cybersecurity. Most likely, neither will until well after the election. For now, it suffices for them to say that cybersecurity must be "Strong" because any concrete idea will leave them open to scrutiny and the need to defend a policy in a realm in which they likely have very little knowledge.
If cybersecurity is important to you, then you are better off following the developments under the Obama administration and how the current federal policies are positioned going into the next administration.