Is Trump the Answer to the US Cyber Security Crisis

Media Division | December 8, 2016

The recent election touched on many controversial issues, including national security, and more specifically cyber security. Donald Trump has addressed the state of the nation’s cyber security measures on several occasions, though the specifics of his policies will be developing as his presidency advances.

Cyber Security Stances From the Trump Campaign

According to President Elect Donald Trump’s campaign website, the threat of a cyber security incident is growing. As president, he promises to create a Cyber Review Team, which would be comprised of members of the military, law enforcement officers, and individuals from private sector entities. According to Trump, the first task of the Cyber Review Team will be to examine all potential weaknesses in the arena of cyber security, and what could be done to ameliorate or eliminate these threats.

Once this assessment is complete, the Cyber Review Team is slated to consult with the various federal agencies. These federal agencies will then take the appropriate steps to enact the proper defenses against cyber threats. These measures may include cyber counter attacks; one of the directives on the website states: “Develop the offensive cyber capabilities we need to deter attacks by both state and non-state actors and, if necessary, to respond appropriately.” Aside from consulting with federal agencies, the Cyber Review Team will also create a training regimen for all government employees.

Furthermore, according to Trump’s website, other teams will be created to ensure cooperation between state and federal governments and law enforcement. Trump will also involve other government officials, such as the Secretary of Defense, in the implementation of any cyber security policies.

What was Said During Campaign Speeches

On October 3, 2016, while addressing members of the armed forces, Donald Trump stated, “To truly make America safe, we must make cybersecurity a major priority for both the government and the private sector….As President, improving cybersecurity will be an immediate and top priority for my Administration.” Trump then identifies the threats against the United States from other countries such as China, North Korea, and Russia. Mr. Trump believes that these cyber attacks have lead to identity theft, financial laundering, and extortion.

The President Elect goes on to describe the efforts that will be taken under his administration, including use of the military to defend cyber attacks and execute cyber counter attacks. During this address, Trump outlines many of the points made in the above-described plan from his campaign website.

Cyber Security Addressed at Presidential Debates

Prior to this speech, Donald Trump had addressed issues of cyber security at the first presidential debate on September 26, 2016. During this debate, Hillary Clinton had pointed the finger at Russia for recent cyber attacks, including those on the Democratic National Committee. In response, Trump said, “As far as the cyber, I agree to parts of what Secretary Clinton said. We should be better than anybody else, and perhaps we are not. I don’t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. She’s saying ‘Russia, Russia, Russia,’ but I don’t – maybe it was…. I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It could also be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK.” Though he did not offer any specific solutions to the issues surrounding cyber warfare, he did acknowledge that is was a “huge problem,” including cyber threats from ISIS. In the instance of cyber warfare, Trump said that he remained open to the idea of closing the internet to stem the attack.

Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump also criticized his opponent’s own cyber security issues. Specifically, he stated, “Has anybody put a server in their basement? Oh boy. Hillary Clinton’s only experience in cybersecurity involves a criminal scheme to violate federal law, engineering a massive cover-up and putting the nation in harm’s way.”

National Security and Privacy Issues

In anticipation of his presidency, many companies are wondering how their private servers and information may be affected by future cyber security policies that Trump may implement. Earlier in his campaign, Trump supported a call for tech companies to build a “back door” to aid the FBI with terror-related investigations. In an interview in October of 2015, Trump has explained that cyber surveillance by the National Security Agency should be given ample leeway. He believes there should be a balance between the security interests of the government and the privacy rights of private individuals and companies.

With regards to national security and cyber measures, Trump has previously called for a boycott of Apple products. In February of 2016, at a campaign rally, Trump stated, “First of all, Apple ought to give the security for that phone…. What I think you ought to do is boycott Apple until such time as they give that security number.” He has also called for surveillance of mosques, and the keeping of a database of Muslim individuals residing in the United States.

As the President Elect takes office, the American people will get a clearer picture of what measures will be taken by the Trump administration.

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