Carson: ‘Encryption specialists’ should help fight hackers

Presidential candidate Ben Carson on Wednesday called on the government to tap private sector “encryption specialists” to help fight hackers, Yahoo News reported.

His remarks came in response to a question about encryption standards, which have been at the center of the national security debate in the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris and and San Bernardino, Calif. Law enforcement has pressed for guaranteed access to encrypted communications to help better track potential deadly plots.

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The GOP White House hopeful was asked if he would ban the encryption of online communications in an effort to help investigators.

“I don’t necessarily think I want to ban encryption,” Carson said Wednesday during a Bloomberg Politics breakfast briefing. “But we have some pretty talented people — not only in the government but in the private sector. Encryption specialists. We need to be taking advantage of the broad swath of talent that we have in this country.”

Encryption specialists have been fighting the call from officials to provide guaranteed access to secure data. They say maintaining any ability to unlock this information introduces vulnerabilities that would expose all datasets to hackers.

Earlier this week Carson released a cybersecurity policy plan proposing to consolidate federal cyber efforts under one new agency, the National Cyber Security Administration (NCSA).

“One of the reasons that I have suggested the establishment of a national cybersecurity administration is so that we can begin to coordinate those efforts,” he said on Wednesday. “You have to recognize that cyberattacks is [sic] going to be the next form of weapons of mass destruction.”

In his plan, Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, called the Obama administration's approach to cybersecurity “disjointed and ineffective.”

He said the NCSA would centralize the government’s work to identify best practices for securing data, collaborate with the private sector and direct research into security vulnerabilities.

The agency is not necessarily meant to launch new cybersecurity initiatives, but to eliminate redundancies and overlaps within the government, according to Carson’s campaign.