The first glimpse of the troubles ahead can already be seen as rumors swirl about Russian hackers and their possible influence on the election outcome. Trump has been quick to deny speculation that he may have had a helping hand in winning votes but he has given other hacks (such as those suffered by Target and eBay to name but a few) as examples of the need to strengthen America’s cyber security capabilities. When he takes office, he has vowed to face cyber criminals head on and indicated he plans to enlist the Secretary of Defence to assist in his crackdown.
In just over a month, the businessman-turned-politician will take on the formidable mantle of the 45th President of the United States. A report from Forrester Research has stated that it’s almost inevitable that Trump will have to deal with a cybercrisis within his first 100 days in office, but what areas of internet safety are likely to be the biggest concerns?
The NATO treaty has stood firm for almost 70 years with the 1949 document covering all manner of armed attacks on US troops, planes and territories. However, cyber terrorism is not covered and Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has already spoken out about the severity of the impact a foreign cyber attack would have, stating such a move could be interpreted as an armed attack.
At the moment, there is no precedent for how serious or wide-spread such a threat would need to be to trigger Article 5. It is hoped that the Trump administration will implement legislation and good practices to build stronger defences and act as prevention rather than waiting for an incident to occur before administering the cure.
Experts have expressed their worries about the individuals who have previously held roles in cyber leadership in US government, and the vulnerable position this leaves the country when tackling both “lone wolf” internal attacks and larger overseas threats. If Trump can fill these roles with individuals whose qualifications and experience in the field is unparalleled, he might hope to put the country ahead of the game when it comes to stepping up its cyber security game. This will be a crucial part of maintaining the security of the nation during the transition and through his first through months as President.
Any attack could have the potential to cause widespread disruption and one of the things the new President will doubtless be aware of is the prospect of cyber terrorism disabling the electrical grid and interfering with government communication and online banking. The Berkeley Center has given some recommended steps to help prevent these possible outcomes; their advice has been to recommend cyber security be included as part of the core curriculum in schools, deferring student loan repayments for cyber security professionals and creating a principle that nations are responsible for any attacks launched from their territories. This final suggestion would draw a line under foreign governments employing “private hackers” and force them to take responsibility. While these won’t prevent cyber security worries in the first 100 days, they do send a strong signal that America’s networks will be secured.
In a broad sense, Trump is certainly in favour of scrutinizing America’s cyber security policies, and he’s no stranger to facing online adversity; digital activist group Anonymous declared cyber war on Trump ahead of the elections, but though they have since changed their tact, they are key players in measuring how much of a threat cyber influence could be to Trump’s administration come January.
Hear from industry experts on how you can build stronger defenses against cyber-attacks at Cyber Security Chicago, 18-19 October 2017, McCormick Place, Chicago.