When the two major presidential candidates haven’t been focused on each other’s personal behavior or legal imbroglios, they’ve tended to discuss a few major issues such as health care, immigration reform, or battling terrorism.
Yes, these are critical topics but what about cybersecurity? After all, this very campaign has featured nation state hacking, email theft, and embarrassing email disclosures from egomaniac Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.
Alas, each candidate has been relatively silent about cybersecurity threats, national vulnerabilities, or what they plan to do to bridge this gap. Secretary Clinton’s policies look a lot like President Obama’s Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP) but add a national security component due to her personal experience with state sponsored hacks of the DNC and John Podesta. Donald Trump seemed completely ignorant about cybersecurity issues (remember “the cyber” comments and his rant about his 10-year-old son’s computer skills?), but has since come up with some pedestrian cybersecurity policy objectives.
I certainly get it – cybersecurity is a geeky topic that only a small subset of U.S. citizens (including the candidates themselves) have a clue about. While this may be true of the overall population, those closest to this issue, cybersecurity professionals themselves, have extremely strong opinions here. In a recent ESG research survey, 176 cybersecurity professionals were asked the following question (note: I am an ESG employee):
Relative to other national security considerations, how important is the issue of cybersecurity for the next US President?
Here are the results:
- 49% of cybersecurity professionals believe that cybersecurity is a critical issue and should be the top overall national security issue for the next president.
- 45% of cybersecurity professionals believe that cybersecurity is a very important issue and should be one of the top three national security issue for the next president.
- 5% of cybersecurity professionals believe that cybersecurity is a somewhat important issue and should be one of the top ten national security issue for the next president.
Regardless of which candidate wins the election, he or she ought to pay close attention and heed the advice of this knowledgeable group. Furthermore, the party that loses the election should not view cybersecurity as a bargaining chip for partisan political agendas. Rather, the losing party should show some humility and work hand-in-hand across the aisle toward effective cybersecurity programs and a cohesive national and international cybersecurity strategy.
Cybersecurity professionals know just how vulnerable we are to sophisticated and damaging cyber-attacks and want Washington to provide more help. The next President must be a leader on this crucial issue of national security and actually get things done. The label of democrat, republican, independent, or other party affiliation doesn’t matter here – all of us face an increasing level of risk.