Trump and Cyber Security: Enough Already!

What is Trump’s strategy regarding cyber security? Form an alliance with one of the world’s most talented cyber combatants: Russia!

Trump has already proven that he’s perfectly capable of making decisions on subjects of which he’s completely ignorant. If foreign policy and health care weren’t enough for you, Trump has decided cyber security is the flavor of the week, and you bet, he’s having two scoops.

Being commander-in-chief of the nation’s military brings with it certain responsibilities. A person in this role should be abreast of emerging security challenges. The internet is poised to become the greatest battlefront the world has ever seen in the course of a few short years. If our nation isn’t prepared to defend itself, the consequences could be dire.

What is Trump’s strategy in this high-tech conflict? Form an alliance with one of the world’s most talented cyber combatants: Russia.

Trump and Putin’s Novel Plan

Before President Trump arrived to establish a new level of low for the highest office in the land, there was another sandy-haired statesman by the name of George W. Bush. Bush wasn’t too good with adages, but he made it halfway through an old saying that goes “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.” Bush’s version was, ahem, modified.

It seems Trump isn’t familiar with that expression. While representatives from both political parties — and also the rest of the planet — feel strongly that Russia had a hand in tweaking the 2016 election results, he’s just not convinced yet.

Irreverence was one of the characteristics that got Trump elected. So, in a move no career politician would dare, he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit in Germany to discuss an “impenetrable cyber-security unit” to combat election hacking.

It’s Only Business, Says Trump

Trump supporters seem to believe the man to be a master of misdirection. Like Sun-Tzu, Trump is keeping friends close, and enemies closer. Except Trump has already alienated numerous GOP constituents in his first six months as President.

Republicans and Democrats alike condemned the suggestion of sharing the type of information such a unit would require with Russia. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called the plan “not the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard, but close.”

The President was quick to respond to his critics using his favorite medium, Twitter, where he explained that while the discussion did take place, such an alliance could never work. He made sure to include the fact that a ceasefire in Syria was reached during the same discussion, which is true.

Putting Off National Security

The creation of such a unit would be more than just a conflict of interest. It would effectively be handing Russia the keys to America’s protected networks. Which raises the question, does Trump actually have a sound understanding of cyber security?

We’re living in an era when running a business without a proper network security assessment is risky, no less a country. The results of having a President who thinks he can run a country like he has his businesses, several of which he managed to screw up, can’t be good.

In late June, nineteen senators wrote Trump, encouraging him to make good on his promise to make cyber security a priority. While he spoke to the issue during his campaign, we have already witnessed a crippling attack on the British hospital system; and the US could see such an attack aimed at our own infrastructure any day. Still, the White House insists an assessment will be performed “in the coming months”.

Many experts suspect that America’s aging power system might be the target of such an attack. Without action to reinforce the decades-old system, it seems only to be a matter of time before someone takes advantage. Whether it’s Russia is inconsequential.

Now is the Time to Act

Further delays on the part of the Trump administration are utterly irresponsible. It’s astounding the man has chosen not to take steps to distance himself from Russia on the topic of cyber security, given the fact that he’s under investigation by his government for collusion with Russia during the same election Putin sought to fix.

The only thing worse than Trump’s negligence on the matter is that of Congress. To steal a move from the Trump administration, “this is all new to him, he doesn’t have a background in [insert failed effort here].”

Congress has known about this threat, since before the Obama administration, and they’ve had over six months now to get familiar with Trump’s “quirks.” Perhaps if Congress had broached this topic before the G2, Trump would have known better in Germany.

This is not a threat we can afford to approach retroactively. When the attack that brings our infrastructure to its knees comes, and we’re not ready, there’s no going back and fixing things. This is nothing short of a matter of national security — let’s treat it as one.

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Kate Harveston

Kate Harveston

Kate Harveston is a political writer with an interest in social justice and human rights. If you like her writing, you can follow her on Twitter or visit her blog, “Only Slightly Biased.”
Kate Harveston