The incoming administration will face significant cybersecurity challenges. Foreign actors, whether affiliated with a government or not, will continue to attempt to infiltrate government and private web sites. They will continue to disrupt Internet services, seek confidential and personal information, and hold data hostage in return for monetary payments.
The ability to respond to cybersecurity challenges rests in part upon the administration and in part upon the private sector. For both the administration and the private sector, preparedness, vigilance, and communication ought to be the main, guiding concepts. The best solutions will come from the private sector.
President-elect Trump just named former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani as the chair of a White House cybersecurity task force. Given the mayor’s private sector experience as chair of a law firm’s cybersecurity and privacy practice group, along with his experience as a security consultant, his selection by the president-elect is good.
This country faces significant cybersecurity challenges every day. The federal government, state governments, companies of all shapes and sizes are faced with near-daily cyberattacks. These attacks can range from distributed denial of service attacks, to schemes designed to obtain confidential, personal information, to encryption programs designed to extort money from victims of attacks. Even the basic DDOS attacks can have wide-ranging impact. Last year’s attack on Dyn knocked out Internet service for nearly all the eastern United States. It also represented a shift in attacks, utilizing both computers and Internet-connected devices.
Schemes to obtain personal information, too, have wide-ranging impact. These types of attacks can cause significant damage to the reputation of a company, not to mention the damage to a person’s financial reputation. The attacks, if successful, can expose a company to investigations and civil lawsuits, diverting resources away from other, needful areas.
Ransomware attacks can paralyze critical parts of our infrastructure. A recent report states that nearly half of businesses surveyed have fallen victim to a cyber-ransom campaign. These businesses include hospitals and colleges.
Cybersecurity challenges evolve rapidly. As the attacks evolve, cybersecurity experts within, and without, companies need to talk with each other and the government. As the experts talk with each other, they will be able to respond to the attacks in a more efficient manner.
Some may question Giuliani’s technology credentials, but those criticisms focus on the government’s role in cybersecurity. Giuliani is expected to act as a liaison between the private sector and the Trump administration. Specifically, per the transition’s press release, Giuliani’s role will be to “obtain experiential and anecdotal information from each executive on challenges faced by his/her company, how the company met the challenges, approaches which were productive or successful, and those which were not,” and then to share that information with the president-elect.
According to Giuliani, his role is that of a facilitator. He will shepherd companies and their technology experts, to the White House where they will have discussions with the president-elect and each other. Mayor Giuliani is expected to convene cybersecurity experts and encourage overall communication. He wants the private sector to lead, and any solutions to focus directly on the threats companies face from foreign and individual actors.
By acting as a facilitator and allowing cybersecurity experts to lead, Mayor Giuliani seems perfectly suited for the role of a cybersecurity task force chair. His ability to organize people and companies in ways to provide the best possible outcome in the face of challenges cannot be questioned.
Preparedness, vigilance, and communication are essential to fighting cyberattacks. Giuliani is an expert at bringing stakeholders to the table, communicating with them, and formulating disaster response plans. If he tackles the task with the same efficiency with which he managed the New York City Mayor’s Office, the Trump administration will be well-equipped to face any type of cybersecurity challenge.
Jonathon Hauenschild, J.D., is the Director of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Task Force on Communications and Technology.
The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.