Cyber security has been at the forefront of the U.S. presidential campaign. Not only has Hillary Clinton been in the hot seat for using an unsecured private email server during her time as Secretary of State, her campaign has been the victim of a series of email hacks from WikiLeaks.
There have also been concerns about the election being compromised by cyber crime, as the Department of Homeland Security said the Russian government was behind hacks into the Democratic National Committee’s computer network.
The American people, particularly those with knowledge of tech, seem to be concerned about information security. A Tripwire survey found that 54 percent of IT professionals said cyber security policy and regulation would play a key role in the presidential election, and 68 percent prefer to vote for a candidate with a strong cyber security policy.
Both candidates have addressed cyber security in their speeches, at debates and on their websites, though neither lays out detailed plans.
So where do the candidates stand on cyber security and how have their views evolved?
Clinton’s Stance on Cyber Security
It’s no secret that Clinton doesn’t have the best record when it comes to information security. The FBI investigated her for sending confidential information on her private email, and the State Department was one of the worst federal agencies at protecting data during her time in office.
A 2015 annual report card compiled by the White House found that the State Department’s compliance with federal cyber security standards was below average when Clinton took over, and grew worse in each year of her tenure. However, it is important to note that when John Kerry replaced Clinton in 2013, standards continued to slip, and may still remain below average, pointing to wider departmental compliance issues.
Despite her shortcomings, she has emphasized cyber security from the start of her campaign.
“[Cyber security is] one of the most important challenges the next president is going to face because the advances, the offensive advances by nation states that we know are very sophisticated – namely Russia, China, next level Iran, next level North Korea – are going to just accelerate,” Clinton said at a town hall meeting in February.
Clinton has continually named other countries, primarily Russia, as the biggest threat to America’s cyber security, but also mentioned the threat of independent hacking groups that steal information for monetary gain.
She has expressed support for President Obama’s Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP), which calls for a $19 billion investment in information security next year.
Clinton’s plan is documented in her technology platform and calls for:
- Enforcing multi factor authentication.
- Encouraging bug bounty programs.
- Improving information sharing between public and private organizations.
- Better tools for law enforcement that also preserve privacy.
Trump’s Stance on Cyber Security
Not coming from a political background, Trump doesn’t have a track record on cyber security. He didn’t discuss it much during the Republican primary campaign. However, he has emphasized the importance of technology when asked.
“First off, we’re so obsolete in cyber… we just seem to be toyed with by so many different countries, already,” Trump told the New York Times in March. “And we don’t know who’s doing what. We don’t know who’s got the power, who’s got the capability, some people say it’s China, some people say it’s Russia. But certainly cyber has to be in our thought process.”
Trump sees cyber crime as a national security issue and seems to favor information sharing between private and public organizations, as evidenced in his call for Apple to unlock the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter.
After the first debate, Trump revealed a more detailed cyber security plan, calling for a review of all U.S. cyber defenses, vulnerabilities and critical infrastructure.
The plan on his website calls for:
- Establishing a Cyber Review Team of individuals from the military, law enforcement and private sector.
- Detailed protocols and mandatory cyber awareness training for all government employees.
- Creation of Joint Task Forces to coordinate federal, state and local law enforcement responses to cyber threats.
- Developing offensive cyber capabilities to deter attacks.
Regardless of which candidate is elected on November 8, they’ll have to deal with increasing cyber threats. Whether its attacks from other nations or hacker groups, the next president will usher America into the future of cyber security.
The emphasis on information security in this election is further evidence that the industry is booming, with opportunities growing across the cyber security sector. Check out our careers section to find out how you could use advanced education to advance your career.