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Election 2016: The State of Cybersecurity

In the first debate of the 2016 presidential election at Hofstra University, candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton sounded off on the state of cybersecurity.

It was a watershed moment for cybersecurity—bringing the work you do into the forefront of the public consciousness and showing that cybersecurity is vital to our national security. But that hasn't always been the case.

Jeff Greene, senior policy counsel for major tech firm Symantec, told Politico's Morning Cybersecurity that “in 2009, when I joined the team working on comprehensive cybersecurity legislation, we could barely get staffers to come to a briefing.” In his first State of the Union address, President Barack Obama dropped a single line about cybersecurity and "there was drama about whether it would even be in there,” Greene said. “What a difference 4 years makes.”

In today's world, cybersecurity can no longer stand on the sidelines. 

"It is critical that the next U.S. president, as a leader on the world stage and in the interest of national security, increase an emphasis on building and expanding cybersecurity capabilities and workforce skills. Cybersecurity is no longer a technology issue but a business and global imperative vital to economic stability and public safety," said Christos Dimitriadis, board chair of ISACA and group director of information security for INTRALOT. "The stakes are high, and information and cybersecurity must be a national and global priority."

What did the candidates have to say? 

Here's what Secretary Clinton said: 

I think cybersecurity, cyber warfare will be one of the greatest challenges facing the next president, because clearly we're facing, at this point, two different kinds adversaries. There are the independent hacking groups that do it mostly for commercial reasons to try to steal information that they then can use to make money. But increasingly, we are seeing cyberattacks coming from states.

The most recent and troubling of these has been Russia. There's no doubt now that Russia has used cyberattacks against all kinds of organizations in our country, and I am deeply concerned about this. I know Donald been very praiseworthy of Vladimir Putin.

But Putin is playing a very tough, long game here. And one of the things he's done is to let loose cyberattackers to hack into government files, to personal files, the Democratic National Committee. And we recently learned that this is one of their preferred methods of trying to wreak havoc and collect information. We need to make it very clear, whether it's Russia, China, Iran, or anybody else, the United States has much greater capacity.

And we are not going to sit idly by and permit state actors to go after our information, our private sector information or our public sector information, and we're going to have to make it clear that we don't want to use the kinds of tools that we have. We don't want to engage in a different kind of warfare. But we will defend the citizens of this country, and the Russians need to understand that.

Donald Trump also weighed in on cybersecurity: 

As far as the cyber, I agree to parts of what Secretary Clinton said, we should be better than anybody else, and perhaps we're not. I don't know if we know it was Russia who broke into the DNC.

She's saying Russia, Russia, Russia. Maybe it was. It could also be China, it could be someone sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds. You don't know who broke into DNC, but what did we learn? We learn that Bernie Sanders was taken advantage of by your people. By Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Look what happened to her. But Bernie Sanders was taken advantage of. Now, whether that was Russia, whether that was China, whether it was another country, we don't know, because the truth is, under President Obama we've lost control of things that we used to have control over. We came in with an internet, we came up with the internet.

And I think Secretary Clinton and myself would agree very much, when you look at what ISIS is doing with the internet, they're beating us at our own game. ISIS. So we have to get very, very tough on cyber and cyber warfare. It is a, it is a huge problem.

I have a son. He's 10 years old. He has computers. He is so good with these computers, it's unbelievable. The security aspect of cyber is very, very tough. And maybe it's hardly doable. But I will say, we are not doing the job we should be doing, but that's true throughout our whole governmental society. We have so many things that we have to do better, Lester, and certainly cyber is one of them.

You can watch them here: 

Posted on September 27, 2016

Jennifer Lawinski

by Jennifer Lawinski

Editor-In-Chief, RSA Conference

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