Post-Election

The Known Unknowns Of Cybersecurity Under Trump

Amid the promises to spend on infrastructure, cut taxes, create jobs and … well, lots of other things, the incoming Trump administration also will have its hands full with cybersecurity issues. The details and even the roadmap on any of the above subjects are more fleshed out on the latter than former.

As for cybersecurity, what lies in the cards? One thing is for certain: Controversy will abound. The overall surveillance push — who is watching what and monitoring who is saying what, where and when is likely to be a centerpiece of Trump’s cybersecurity agenda.

That overarching theme will be one where the president-elect has said, or at least once said, on the campaign trail that “errs on the side of security.” A broad statement, to be sure.

One tell is that the nominee for the directorship of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, currently a Republican representative from Kansas, has stated support for strong surveillance measures. Both he and Trump’s attorney general nominee, Jeff Sessions, Republican senator from Alabama, have said they oppose at least some of the civil liberty protections set in place with the 2015 USA Freedom Act.

More germane to data protection (and, by extension, payments) are issues surrounding encryption. There’s scattered evidence about how Trump feels about the issue, tied to a few public statements.

Those statements came in response to Apple’s showdown early in 2016 with the FBI over the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone over what data should be private and what could be unlocked and handed over to authorities. Trump’s position was that Apple should have aided efforts to make that data available, and he called for a boycott of the company.

As for cybersecurity itself, writ large? Look for a cybersecurity task force with a mix of government advisers and private sector professionals. Who? From where? That remains to be seen.

Also, Trump has said he wants to wage battle on this front, which he has called the “future” of war between nations, and he has also called for international efforts tied to combatting hackers. The National Security Adviser nominee, retired general Michael Flynn, has said that this is a war that can be won only if the U.S. goes “on the offensive once in a while.”

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