I consider myself somewhat of a political junkie, and as such, I frequently find myself tuning into the Sunday morning Washington insider shows or taking in one of the seemingly endless debates during the election season.
Given my involvement in the IT security industry, I have a heightened awareness for discussions on issues in this arena and have often found it odd that none of the candidates or the journalists charged with asking the tough questions have hit on the issue of cybersecurity. In conversations with colleagues I was encouraged that I was not the only one who felt this way, but was willing to chalk it up to perhaps a little over sensitivity given my chosen profession.
However, that line of thinking all changed a short time ago when I tuned into the evening news and heard Robert Mueller, Director of the FBI, make the following proclamation:
“I do not think today it is necessarily [the] number one threat, but it will be tomorrow…Counterterrorism — stopping terrorist attacks — with the FBI is the present number one priority. But down the road, the cyberthreat, which cuts across all [FBI] programs, will be the number one threat to the country.”
Mueller was not alone in his observations either, as he was joined by National Intelligence Director James Clapper, who went on to add:
“The cyberthreat is one of the most challenging ones we face...Among state actors, we’re particularly concerned about entities within China and Russia conducting intrusions into U.S. computer networks and stealing U.S. data. And the growing role that nonstate actors are playing in cyberspace is a great example of the easy access to potentially disruptive and even lethal technology and know-how by such groups.”
Let that sink in for a moment.
The Director of the FBI and the National Intelligence Director just stated for the world to hear that in a very short period of time, cyberthreats will be our country’s biggest threat, yet none of the major candidates are talking about it and to my knowledge, the media hasn’t been asking. Given the process candidates go through in order to secure their party’s nomination where they are asked for their position on seemingly everything, one would think this issue would be more talked about.
Personally, while I don’t necessarily expect the candidate to be an expert on cyber security themselves, I would like to know that they have given the issue some thought and they recognize the potential hazards. I’d also like to know how they would address the issue; do they view it as a law enforcement issue or would it fall under the domain of homeland security?
I recently saw that U.S. officials estimate there are 60,000 new malicious computer programs identified each day. I think that qualifies as a significant threat and one that the voters deserve some answers on before they go into the booths come November. I for one will be on the lookout to see what kind of attention this issue gets paid in the weeks and months ahead, and which candidate has a plan to deal with it.