Magazine article Risk Management

Six Cyber Issues for the Trump Administration

Magazine article Risk Management

Six Cyber Issues for the Trump Administration

Article excerpt

The rise of cybersecurity threats poses a critical corporate and national security issue. From an increase in social engineering fraud and ransomware that cost businesses millions of dollars last year to the influence of social media and hacking on the U.S. presidential election, cyberthreats (and attacks) are now common and persistent.

Before taking office, Donald Trump announced that improving cybersecurity would be one of the top priorities during his first 100 days in office. Some cybersecurity experts are still uncertain of the Trump administration's ability to tackle these important issues, however. In November, for example, Forrester Research predicted that the new president would face a cyber crisis in his first 100 days, further highlighting the urgent need for a strong cybersecurity policy, including enforcement procedures. President Trump has indicated that he will leave the brunt of the policymaking on this issue to the Department of Defense (DoD) and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, though this proposed plan has raised some legal questions, as the Department of Homeland Security is the agency in charge of protecting infrastructure while the Pentagon is responsible for defending military networks.

In December, Trump held a summit with leaders from top technology companies, including Alphabet CEO Larry Page, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, potentially signaling interest in working with Silicon Valley, tech leaders and private industry to develop innovative solutions to bolster cybersecurity.

It is still unclear what the Trump administration's cybersecurity policy will include, but the following are some of the key objectives the Trump administration could address during his presidency:

1. Prevent future cyberattacks.

While the cyberattack on the Democratic National Committee has been viewed as ultimately benefiting Trump, the hack and other alleged cyberattacks during the campaign are considered the first attempt in history to digitally disrupt a U.S. presidential election. The gravity of this situation has led to a bipartisan effort to investigate the incidents and fortify against future attacks.

Cyber issues would seemingly require cooperation and collaboration with the international community, but the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime is the only binding international agreement related to cybercrime and some have criticized its effectiveness. Trump's cybersecurity plan focuses mostly on domestic issues, and he will likely adopt a policy that addresses the role of the United States in deterring cyberattacks.

The president could begin by immediately sanctioning individuals and organizations tied to cybercrimes by imposing travel and commercial restrictions. He may also focus on identifying countries with areas of high cybercriminal activity and put public pressure on those governments. Domestically, the administration can borrow from counter-terrorism strategies by developing interdisciplinary task forces that combine intelligence, finance, law enforcement, and other fields to monitor adversarial cyber activity and undermine future attacks.

2. Implement policies to reduce the effects of DDoS attacks.

On Oct. 21, 2016, parts of the internet essentially shut down, with many popular websites rendered inaccessible in the United States after hackers launched distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against key web servers. DDoS attacks can be difficult to prevent and defend because they typically do not originate from one computer. Rather, the attacks can emanate from thousands of devices connected to the internet (the internet of things) that were infected with malicious code.

Due to the nature of these attacks, there is no simple means of prevention. However, if websites use a large number of independent servers rather than a few main servers that are easily targeted, the likelihood all servers will be affected is greatly reduced. …

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