President-elect Donald Trump vowed to strengthen American's cyber defenses against possible attacks as part of a press conference he held in mid-January ahead of his formal inauguration. The future Trump administration promised to create a report on cybersecurity issues to create a defense against hackers within the first 90 days of Trump's time in the White House. Technology experts generally welcomed the news.
The Trump administration recognized Russia and China as sources for attacks and data breaches based on hackers' findings. Cybersecurity issues made headlines during the 2016 presidential election, as U.S. intelligence officials said Russia hacked American computer servers and used propaganda to try to influence the election.
One way the Trump administration can strengthen America's cybersecurity defenses is by building on what's already happened. President Barack Obama created a nonpartisan group in late 2016 that made recommendations on how to improve America's first line of defense against cyberattacks. Those suggestions included training more cybersecurity experts, making a simpler rating system on technology products so Americans know which products are safer to use and replacing usernames and passwords with more secure alternatives. Biometrics, or even fingerprints, represent a few ways to replace usernames and passwords.
The Trump administration can do more than build on those recommendations, said Steven Chabinsky, former deputy assistant director with the FBI’s cyber division. He believes around 10 percent of the annual defense budget, which totals $600 billion, should go towards creating a stronger cybersecurity defense system. The government should research and pay for ways to halt hackers who try to disrupt infrastructures, such as servers of large companies or payment systems, before these attacks harm victims. Chabinsky says the government must take steps because the average American doesn't pay attention to cybersecurity problems until something has already happened. As an example, he cites President Bill Clinton, who felt as if private enterprises needed to take care of cybersecurity problems, but that simply was not the case.
The Trump administration met with Silicon Valley tech leaders in December 2016, including upper-level executives from Apple, Cisco and Microsoft. The incoming administration promised to bring in the top minds and experts to combat the problem. The review process includes gathering experts from law enforcement, the military and private sectors with the hope of conducting regular reviews on the state of America's cyber defense systems.
Trump must bring in experts to the front lines of major cybersecurity problems to ensure Americans are safe. Breaches happen when hackers exploit vulnerabilities found in weak passwords, outdated computer operating systems and malicious viruses found in emails. The government can only do so much, and ultimately, there must be more education on cybersecurity so everyone knows how to protect themselves from data breaches and hackers.
The Trump administration has four years to come up with a plan to bolster America's cyber defenses. Experts hope Trump and his administration take steps to fix the problems rather than just talk about them.
Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net