Bush stakes out tough position on cybersecurity

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Presidential candidate Jeb Bush on Monday cast himself as tough on cybersecurity, releasing a five-point plan to strengthen the nation’s posture.

The proposal comes just two days before the second Republican primary debate.

“A series of high-profile cybersecurity failures and the Obama administration’s feeble response to the growing threat have demonstrated real vulnerabilities in government and private systems, eroding public confidence in both the government and even the Internet itself,” Bush wrote in a Medium post announcing his plan.

The former Florida governor tied the Internet's contribution to gross domestic product  — 15 percent of growth from 2004 to 2009 — to public confidence in online security.

“Let’s not mince words: in order to achieve 4% growth and the 19 million jobs that come with it, we need a vibrant and secure Internet,” Bush wrote. “This is an issue that gravely needs presidential leadership.”

Bush’s plan touches on a number of cybersecurity debates roiling the government.

In one proposal, he offers support for the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), stalled in the Senate over privacy concerns. The bill would boost information sharing between the federal government and the private sector, a minimum requirement for government, according to Bush.

In another point, Bush proposes a more aggressive strategy for responding to state-backed hackers, calling for international “rules of the road” for prosecuting cyber criminals.

“We must hold to account those who are stealing our nation’s intellectual capital,” Bush wrote. “Efforts to expose, prosecute, and in some cases retaliate against these actors will raise the cost of conducting such attacks and increase deterrence of future attacks.”

A proliferation of intrusions on both government servers including at the White House and Pentagon, as well as private companies such as Anthem and Target, has boosted pressure on federal officials to retaliate against hackers.

The Obama administration has so far been reluctant to take action, although it is currently weighing economic sanctions on Chinese companies accused of benefiting from hacked data.

Bush also criticized Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonPoll: Clinton holds narrow leads in five battleground states Being a woman is not a qualification for becoming president Detroit newspaper breaks with tradition, endorses Gary Johnson MORE for the “reckless behavior” she exhibited in using a private email server during her tenure as secretary of State and the Obama administration over its handling of this year's massive Office of Personnel Management hack.

“Leadership means not hiring political hacks or cronies for critical positions that involve cybersecurity,” he wrote. “It also means holding executive branch officials accountable for their failure to prioritize cybersecurity and protect the networks under their care.”

Bush has gone after President Obama over the OPM hack before, blaming the White House for its “cultural failure” to take cyber threats seriously.

“What use is it that President Obama issued an executive order or gave a thoughtful speech about cybersecurity if his own Office of Personnel Management  —  the human resources department of the entire U.S. government — failed to take basic steps to protect the sensitive personal information of millions of its employees?” Bush asked in another Medium post in June.

Bush on Monday echoed his calls for government accountability and a “command focus” on cybersecurity.

“Cybersecurity should be considered a critical element of our national defense and economic well-being,” Bush wrote.