Center for Long Term Cybersecurity releases policy recommendations for Trump administration

Originally published on November 22, 2016 for The Daily Californian

The UC Berkeley Center for Long Term Cybersecurity, or CLTC, released cybersecurity policy recommendations for Donald Trump’s administration Nov. 18.

Professor of political science Steve Weber and Executive Director of the CLTC Betsy Cooper want the president-elect’s administration to make cybersecurity a “tier one issue.” They hope to educate the public on the importance and threat level of the issue, which Weber believes parallels that of the terrorist organization ISIS and climate change.

Cybersecurity is the development and implementation of measures taken to protect computers against hacks and cyber attacks. Cooper noted the Target and Home Depot data breaches in 2014 as well as the release of emails during the 2016 election as examples of cyber attacks.

“We have now built in an economy and much of our society on digital networks and digital devices, many of which are not secure,” Weber said. “We have to fix that, and we have to fix that quickly.”

The CLTC team began brainstorming two months ago and generated 15 ideas, which it narrowed down to five policy recommendations. The policies are nonpartisan, according to Weber and Cooper — they intended on releasing the recommendations regardless of who won the election.

Cooper said as more devices go online, the issue of cybersecurity becomes more important. She said that many consumers can’t see the impact of cybersecurity in their daily lives.

“One of the proposals we put in the piece is that there needs to be a public awareness campaign,” Cooper said. “A lot of the impacts are invisible but they’re really important. We need to make them visible to the average consumer.”

Weber highlighted the first policy recommendation, which asks the Trump administration to release a public statement within the first 10 days declaring how it will deal with cybersecurity to bolster deterrence of cyber attacks. Weber said that this would communicate to the American public that cybersecurity is important.

Terri Bimes, a lecturer in political science, believes that cybersecurity is a big issue, especially because she said it can be difficult to coordinate between the many different government intelligence agencies. Bimes said Trump should make cybersecurity a priority and that CLTC has more structure to its policy propositions than Trump’s administration.

“If you look at the policies on the (Trump campaign) website, they’re very skeletal,” Weber said. “They don’t have many details. It’s a blank slate.”

As the Trump administration is still transitioning, Weber and Cooper don’t expect an immediate response from his spokespeople. They hope that when the administration’s leaders have been appointed, the conversation on how to develop policy for cybersecurity will begin.

Even if the recommendations are used, according to Weber, the CLTC will likely not receive credit for the policies, and Weber said the center is fine with that — it just hopes to start a conversation and contribute its ideas for cybersecurity policy.

“We put on the table some pretty bold ideas about things the administration could do,” Weber said. “I don’t think we should assume the worst about what the Trump administration is going to do in this area. … I think we need to engage and do the best we can.”

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