Allison's Reflections

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Blog #1001: Cyber War with a New Commander-in-Chief

Filed under: Uncategorized — allee at 10:14 pm on Thursday, November 10, 2016

When the news hit of a hack into the Democratic National Committee, I remember feeling scared, concerned, and confused. I remember wondering who could have been responsible.

“It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”

Thank you, Mr. Future President, for that enlightening answer.

With the recent election results, I couldn’t help but read this week’s assigned articles on cyber warfare with Donald Trump in mind. How will he deal with cyber warfare and crime?

It didn’t help that a suggested article on one of the assigned ones was “Trump’s Win Signals Open Season for Russia’s Political Hackers“. The author, Andy Greenberg, cites the spike in activity of Fancy Bear or APT28. This political hacking group from Russia was pointed to as the culprits of the DNC hack by the security firm Crowdstrike. I feel like Greenberg’s argument is very extreme, and reading it, I’m not sure if I 100% buy it. He attributes the increased activity to the hackers being encouraged by recent hacking successes (for example, of the DNC); isn’t this independent of whether Trump won or not? I would love some clarification on the article at some point. While I can see that Trump is more condoning of Russia than other political figures, I’m not sure that that is sufficient for hackers to go all-out.

During the first presidential debate (the same one where he made the aforementioned statement), Trump did express concern over cyber warfare; he explicitly declared that “we have to get very, very tough on cyber and cyber warfare. It is a huge problem.” But I feel like he doesn’t understand the subtleties of it. In the above Wired article, James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies even asserted that “Trump’s win may now delay America’s response or reduce its efficacy.” Quite honestly, I don’t really understand the implications of his presidency on cyber policy. Erik Gartzke contends that “Unless cyberwar can substitute for a physical surprise attack, there is no reason to believe that it will be used in place of conventional modes of warfare” and that for a cyberattack to be of great magnitude, it must be done in conjunction with a physical attack. I’m hoping that hackers won’t figure out a way to effectively execute this in the next four years; but if they do, what will be the US’s response? Will Trump prioritize dealing with cybersecurity? How would checks and balances change who really has a say in cyberpolicy? I’d love to discuss these questions in seminar next week. 🙂




Comment by profsmith

November 13, 2016 @ 9:59 pm

I have no idea what Trump will do in most things, not to mention cybersecurity. On the Greenberg article, I think you’re right. State-sponsored hacking was on the rise long before Trump was elected, and even before he was the Republican nominee.


Comment by Mike Smith

November 25, 2016 @ 5:29 pm

We didn’t get to discuss your questions, and I’m not sure how much we’ll know about Trump’s policies in this space anytime soon. I haven’t seen much to indicate that Trump will want to learn about the issues here, and so I can only hope that he appoints some good advisors in this space and actually listen to them.

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