In-Depth Debate Topics: Cyber Security

Welcome back to the third installment of my in-depth view at topics from the Presidential election’s debate cycle.  Today’s topic will be the ever fascinating and confusing topic of cyber security. Cyber security is one of those topics that has been on the rise lately, and will only become more and more important as time goes on. We live in the era of the Internet; everything is connected to the Internet, and therefore needs to be secured from cyber threats. Cyber attacks occur all of the time, and are thwarted many times, and sometimes they work; They are perpetrated against companies, governments, and average citizens across the world. Some of our staff have already discussed great tips for personal cyber security, but what about at the national level? Where do our Presidential candidates stand on this major issue?

The United States is one of the largest and most frequent targets of cyber attacks; as such we need a government that is technologically literate and capable of dealing with these threats. Both candidates have stated stances on this issue, but only one actually has it as a part of the official campaign platform. That candidate is Donald Trump. Trump’s stance on cyber security is fairly common sense and follows points that most leaders should follow.

·      A review of all US cyber defenses and infrastructure

·      Creating a joint task force across federal, state and local levels to fight cyber threats

·      Enhance US cyber command offensively and defensively based on recommendations by the joint chiefs

·      Develop a cyber deterrence program

On a whole, these ‘proposals’ are common sense and the bare minimum in terms of campaign policy in order to claim something is being done.  On the other hand, his opponent, Secretary Clinton has no official cyber platform, but has made statements about cyber security and threats dozens of times over. Clinton has stated that under her administration cyber attacks would be treated as any other attack, which could theoretically act as a deterrent to state sponsored hacking, but probably wouldn’t deter smaller transnational hacker groups like Anonymous and the aptly named Hacking Team. (Author’s Note:  Hacker is a generic term, there are white hat hackers whose hacking is for a good reason, or to find flaws in websites and code, or there are black hat hackers who are what you tend to think of when you think of hackers.) Secretary Clinton is also on record as being in favor of protecting online privacy, favoring working with allies to create best practices, promoting general cyber security and supporting the US-EU Privacy Shield program.

The first presidential debate directly zeroed in on cyber security, with both candidates giving their responses. The moderator, Lester Holt, asked, “Our institutions are under cyber attack, and our secrets are being stolen. So my question is, who’s behind it? And how do we fight it?” This question is fairly misleading because, we don’t actually know who is behind a lot of the cyber attacks that we see. Groups like anonymous take claim of their attacks, but some hackers don’t. When it comes to state sponsored hacking, its usually connected in some way to Russia, Iran or China, but probing those links is almost impossible, to the point that the evidence is usually circumstantial at best.

In their responses to the question neither candidate added anything new to their stances. Secretary Clinton accused Russia of being a primary cyber threat. While Trump, probably lost any support from hackers, by saying that these attacks could be from a 400-pound hacker sitting in their bed. Though realistically if you want to understand cyber security you will be hard pressed to listen to either of these candidates. Secretary Clinton subscribes to a “do as I say, not as I do” system, as her own use of cyber security is appalling.  Her email ‘scandal’ shows that she is severely lacking in personal cyber security practices. Though her policies are based on input from experts and not personal experience, which we should all be thankful for. Trump likewise doesn’t have a great track record. Though he doesn’t have an email server issue, he betrays some key cyber practices online. He tweets every thought that he has, which has come back to bite him in the ass time and time again. His policies are almost nonexistent. Not to mention that trump refers to it as “The Cyber”.

To close, Cyber security is becoming increasingly important. We as people need to better educate ourselves on cyber security and what we can do better online to protect ourselves. If you want to learn more, I suggest reading the articles by our writers or checking out Wired, for consistently good content on all things technology and cyber security.


Check back later this week for the fourth installation in this series…