Last Wednesday, reports came out from the New York Times that President Donald Trump is still using his personal, "off-the-shelf" Android phone, despite aid advice against doing this. It doesn't take a world-class security expert to understand why this might be a problem. An insecure device in the White House can cause a whole world of trouble, let alone allow for the President's exact location to be identified.
Trump has often distanced himself from technology and in an interview in 2007 professed to not use email. More recently, he has come out and said that “no computer is safe” and advised using a courier to send communications instead. Comments like these have continued to ruffle cyber-security experts' feathers who believe his ignorance and lack of understanding could quite easily upend over a decade of national security policies and put both national and private data at risk. Not to mention his handling of the Russian hacking allegations, which experts have said could spur foreign hackers into launching further attacks. His reckless abandon with his own security measures, shown most recently with his continued use of his personal mobile phone, could also signify his future stance on cyber-crime.
For much of his election campaign, it seemed that Trump was learning on the job. Picking up tit-bits of information he needed, and peddling them into his rhetoric. But it is now that he is faced with office that we will see how his idea of cyber-crime will affect America and the wider world.
Even the President's appointment of cyber-security advisor, Rudy Giuliani, has been met with fierce criticism. Chief of which was that the former New York City mayor was quite open about the reason he got into cyber-security: for the money. After reading an FBI report back in 2003 anticipating a hacking crime wave, he set up a security company designed to combat it. He also regularly proclaimed that he was going to “solve cyber-security” – like any crime or method of crime could be fixed completely. The icing on the cake was that, after the announcement, hackers made assessments of Giuliani's two sites, Gulianisecurity.com and Gulianipartners.com, and found that the sites' severs were pretty much left unlocked, with the doors open. Not the best start for a man who is to advise the president on everything and anything to do with cyber-security. Of course, it's more than likely that the former mayor doesn't hold the keys to those servers himself, but it's an obvious and clearly avoidable display of disregard for necessary security measures.
The biggest worry is that Trump could show similar disregard in adapting and advancing security measures. He is, after all, more adamant that an old-fashioned pen, paper, and courier is the best way to safeguard communications. Innovative approaches to cyber-security put in place by George W Bush in the wake of September 11th and furthered by Obama could be left behind, undermining the already fragile trust in electronic communications, indicating an attitude that may embolden hackers and cyber-criminals on a massive scale.
As we see more private and public sectors losing cyber-security battles, we find ourselves at a pivotal point. The need for significant attention to the advancement and innovation of cyber-security is higher than ever. But the man elected as the 45th president of the United States may see things differently and has given us mixed signals and incoherent messages regarding his policies on the matter.
The new administration should look to renew policies, put further interest and man power into advancing cyber-crime prevention tech and processes, and tackle the problem head on. Only time will tell whether they will or not...
Contributed by Alan Blaney, owner, Focus Training
Also see: Trump signs exec order on cyber-security