Except cybersecurity doesn't begin and end with cyberwarfare and Russian hackers. It is a catastrophic mistake to see urgent issues like ransomware and breaches as separate from cybersecurity, because they are all part of the same thing. And, thus, the introduction of cyber to presidential debate territory (about ten years too late, if you ask me) took a left turn into bizzaro-land and faceplanted center stage.
"We want to start with a twenty-first century war happening every day in this country. Our institutions are under cyberattack, and our secrets are being stolen. So my question is, who's behind it? And how do we fight it?" Holt asked.
For her part, Clinton went straight to cyberwar. She opened her response saying that "cyber warfare will be one of the biggest challenges facing the next president."
"We need to make it very clear -- whether it's Russia, China, Iran or anybody else -- the United States has much greater capacity." Suggesting that hacking back or escalation is on the table, she framed the issue as fighting "state actors" who "go after our information, our private-sector information or our public-sector information." She explained , "And we're going to have to make it clear that we don't want to use the kinds of tools that we have. We don't want to engage in a different kind of warfare. But we will defend the citizens of this country."
Concentrate only on this, and I promise things will get worse. Because what we desperately need protecting from right now is Yahoo, and companies like them, whose negligent enterprise security facilitate large-scale attacks. And just this week, Europol issued a report saying that ransomware is now the largest online cybercrime threat , period. There's more, like getting the cybersecurity of government orgs andvoting into this century, but let's not worry about putting on pants before we run out the door to fight with our aggro neighbors.
Trump inflicted his usual amount of abuse on the English language, and took us on another outside-voice narrated trip to the land of free-association. "So we have to get very, very tough on cyber and cyber warfare. It is -- it is a huge problem." He added , "I have a son. He's 10 years old. He has computers. He is so good with these computers, it's unbelievable." Mostly he said we don't cyber so good, and fixing it probably isn't possible. This came out as, "The security aspect of cyber is very, very tough. And maybe it's hardly doable."
He's speaking from first hand experience -- having just experienced a website leak that included personal information . Trump's website, DonaldJTrump.com, failed to secure sensitive files up until last week. Security researcher Chris Vickery found that Trump's site had misconfigured settings on its Amazon cloud account. This allowed anyone to gain access to and download files on the site (including resumes), simply by guessing file names and typing the URL. In frustration at being ignored at every turn by Trump's people, Vickery asked DataBreaches.net to help him contact the campaign. Ultimately, Trump's campaign remained mute about the security fail ; the issue was eventually fixed, silently, without notification or acknowledgement of any kind.
So, that's all we got from this long-overdue mention of "the cyber" (as in security) in this little slice of debate history.