Do-Si-Do – dancing with privacy: Trump and Cybersecurity

Dprivate-danceruring the current U.S. president’s administration, we have seen a tremendous effort in protecting digital assets and cybersecurity. Industry experts tend to feel that although the initiatives do not take us as far as we need to go, they have covered immense mileage. Will this change under the new administration? Experts disagree on the answer.

President-elect Trump’s website provides an overview of his initiative, namely launching cyber-offense. We must keep in mind that this website is pre-office and like many presidents, subject to change once reality hits. But let’s look closer at some hints we have at what might be coming or disappearing.

On his campaign website, Trump declares four points as his vision:

  • Order an immediate review of all U.S. cyber defenses and vulnerabilities, including critical infrastructure, by a Cyber Review Team of individuals from the military, law enforcement, and the private sector.
    • The Cyber Review Team will provide specific recommendations for safeguarding different entities with the best defense technologies tailored to the likely threats, and will followed up regularly at various Federal agencies and departments.
    • The Cyber Review Team will establish detailed protocols and mandatory cyber awareness training for all government employees while remaining current on evolving methods of cyber-attack.
  • Instruct the U.S. Department of Justice to create Joint Task Forces throughout the U.S. to coordinate Federal, State, and local law enforcement responses to cyber threats.
  • Order the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to provide recommendations for enhancing U.S. Cyber Command, with a focus on both offense and defense in the cyber domain.
  • Develop the offensive cyber capabilities we need to deter attacks by both state and non-state actors and, if necessary, to respond appropriately.

These are ambitious goals and he further elaborated on them in several speeches, such as the one he highlights on that page to the Retired American Warriors.

Cabinet choices: some of the individuals selected for cabinet positions (Attorney General and Director of the CIA) are causing a few concerns in the privacy world according to CNBC.

The president-elect’s selections for attorney general — Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. — and CIA director — Rep. Mike Pompeo R-Kan. — have argued publicly that the government needs greater surveillance powers.

McSherry said Pompeo poses a particularly worrying risk to American citizens’ privacy, as he has advocated for things like the routine mass collection and use of “social data” from third parties, like Facebook and Alphabet‘s Google. Pompeo has also called for Edward Snowden to be put to death, said Chris Calabrese, vice president for policy at the Center for Democracy and Technology.

In addition, Trump reportedly disagreed stringently with Apple’s refusal to help the FBI hack into a terrorist cell phone (you remember that story, right?). Supposedly, Trump called for a boycott of Apple products. Now we all have opinions on what was the right thing to do there, but I personally know few people who supported assisting the FBI (I opposed it and I am a diehard FBI fangirl). The issue is no matter how much we love the law enforcement of the USA, we also love the people of the USA and that includes all of their rights and responsibilities guaranteed under the Constitution. We can argue all day long what exactly that means, but if the arm of the government kept its fingers in the pies it should, there would be no problem with privacy. Unfortunately, the zeal for ferreting out bad guys seems to carry no counterweight with some law enforcement. And the history there is unden
iable.

But let’s get back to the Trump administration and cybersecurity.

He is openly supportive of the US launching offensive cyberattacks (as evidenced by his own statement provided above). Now, I am not a politician or policy-maker, but I see both good and bad there. I’d love to hear from true cyber-experts if that is the way to go. In most competitions, being strong defensively as well as offensively is highly advised. But will there be a system of checks and balances that draws a clear, uncrossable line? BEFORE there is real harm?

I, for one, truly hope that the new administration continues to build on the advancements made by the current administration. As a nation, we must protect ourselves; but as individuals, we must also protect ourselves and each other. We must avoid a mob-mentality and not give in to mass hysteria…unless a situation becomes so untenable that it takes a national uprising to protect our rights and wellbeing.

I am just not sure what direction that takes or what music it’s dancing to…

What I am sure of is that Trump thinks more in terms of business than politics. Given his recent meeting with Silicon Valley icons, my hope is that he will play ball – or as the title suggests  dance like a businessman (sorry, not sorry) and look for the greater partnerships, which just might be a good thing for us, our privacy rights, and our national cybersecurity efforts. We will have to watch carefully and quickstep if we see it going the other direction. I am afraid this is not one issue that can be stopped easily if it gains tremendous movement – and that can apply in either direction. So here’s to dancing in the right direction!

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