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Securing America - The U.S. Presidential Debate

By Tom Skeen

Monday night Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump sparred in the first of three presidential debates.  Many topics were discussed, but the moderator in particular brought up one topic that is of the utmost importance – Securing America. Lester Holt, the moderator from NBC News, asked the following question of both candidates during the debate -  “Our next segment is called Securing America. And we want to start with a twenty first century war happening every day in this country. 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?” [1]

Clinton Had the Opportunity to Answer First

“Well, I think cyber security, cyber warfare, will be one of the biggest challenges facing the next president because clearly, we're facing, at this point, two different kinds of 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 cyber attacks coming from states, organs of states. The most recent and troubling of these has been Russia. There is no doubt now that Russia has used cyber attacks against all kinds of organizations in our country.” [2]

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Trump’s Response

“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 think anybody knows that it was Russia that broke into the DNC. She saying Russia, Russia, Russia. 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… 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.”[3]

Did we learn anything?

Both candidates agree that Securing America is important, but neither appears to have a clear plan to mitigate cyber attacks, cyber warfare or any type of Securing America strategy. On the other hand, the candidates align in that cyber attacks could be the result of nation states, whether Russia or China. They understand there is a problem, but neither are willing to discuss their plan or simply don’t have a plan.  

So what’s next?

The U.S. government announced earlier this year the Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP) that is designed to take bold actions to protect Americans in today’s digital world.  Just this month, it was announced that a Federal CISO position would be established to further direct the initiatives. These are all good steps, but government legislation and realized impact as a result of policy can take years.  Cyber attacks are occurring every day and the existing Securing America strategy just isn’t working, as 2016 will end up being the worst year ever for stolen information.     

Companies must take control of their own destiny as it relates to cyber attacks and cyber warfare.  It’s quite simple – protect your information and assets with companies that offer security solutions and practices that are modern, aggressive and proactive or the consequences will be devastating.  Derek Schwartz, Safe-T CEO NA, made the following statement recently as it relates to this very topic: “A clear and present danger is impacting the way we conduct our lives today and immediate action must be taken ”.

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