Both Clinton, Trump Lack Tech and Cybersecurity Savvy

Neither candidate has said a meaningful word on cybersecurity during the campaign, and for good reason: They wouldn’t have the faintest idea what to say.

by Jessica Van Sack, Boston Herald / November 7, 2016

(TNS) -- No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, there’s no doubt that the next president will be a step backward on cyber­security, not just from President Obama, but from his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have said nary a meaningful word on cybersecurity during the campaign. Both chose instead to talk about the military, national security and terror prevention as if this were a decade ago. And for good reason: They wouldn’t have the faintest idea what to say.

Clinton still reads printed copies of her emails. If her private email server was any indication, she apparently never got the memo that the cloud is a thing, and that maybe emails going to and from the secretary of state should be encrypted.

That’s not to say that I have the least bit of confidence in Trump’s 21st century information security prowess, given his incoherent ramblings in September about “the cyber.”

“As far as the cyber, I agree to parts of what Secretary Clinton said .... So we had to get very, very tough on cyber and cyber warfare. It is a huge problem. I have a son — he’s 10 years old. He has computers,” said Trump. “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.”

At a time when the digital infrastructure of our government and economy faces constant attempted hacks and attacks from overseas, voters have to choose between a man confounded by the abilities of his 10-year-old son and a woman who probably still thinks AOL is the internet.

A lack of fundamental understanding of modern cybersecurity and warfare techniques by the leader of the free world is something that should concern every American.

President Obama was the first to carry a BlackBerry and the first to establish a chief technology officer for the White House. It is likely no coincidence that Obama was likely able to coordinate the world’s first major cyberweapon, Stuxnet, a computer virus aimed at uranium enrichment facilities in Iran. The virus was passed from computer to computer via USB thumb drives, an unprecedented malicious code that was meant to physically destroy the equipment controlled by the computers it invaded.

Stuxnet was actually part of the covert so-called Olympic Games program, a still-unacknowledged but widely accepted as true campaign of cyber disruption directed at Iran and started by none other than former President George W. Bush.

Obama stepped up and accelerated the program, according to a book by David Sanger, “Confront and Conceal.”

There’s no doubt that Obama is our geekiest president, and the younger Bush is Mark Zuckerberg compared to the choices we have tomorrow.

But even Obama failed to ask the right questions about Stuxnet. The stealthy malware was supposed to stay only on so-called “air gap” devices, aka those that aren’t connected to the internet. But there’s widespread debate over whether the U.S. actually lost control of its superweapon.

The reality is we are under constant attack, and even a fairly tech-savvy president wasn’t able to ward off Russia’s alleged hack on the Democratic National Committee, the foreign attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, or the breach that exposed personal information on 4 million current and federal employees last year.

It’s time to make sure the president understands ­cyberdefense as much as any other form of military defense, if for no other reason than the staggering cost of cyberattacks on the American economy and its jobs. In 2013, cyberattacks cost Fortune 500 companies an astonishing $500 billion, according to the cyber-intel firm BlackOps Partners Corp.

So, for the sake of our economy and our safety, let’s make sure tomorrow marks the last time we elect a technologically illiterate commander in chief.

©2016 the Boston Herald. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.