Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina would launch retaliatory cyberattacks against Russia and China if elected, she told Breitbart News on Monday.
“Number one, I would retaliate against China and Russia,” she said. “They have hacked into some of our most sensitive systems and we haven’t done much about it.”
The former Hewlett-Packard CEO laid out a three-part plan she believes the government must adopt immediately. In addition to hitting our cyber adversaries with counter attacks, Fiorina said she would create “a centralized cyber command” and engage the private sector more directly to help track suspicious online activity.
The Obama administration has been working in recent years to combat the rise in cyberattacks. Cyber crime syndicates are rapidly expanding and foreign governments are increasingly targeting U.S. government agencies for espionage campaigns.
It’s believed Russian spies have hacked into the Pentagon and White House, among other agencies. Chinese hackers are also suspected in this summer’s massive data breach at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which exposed more than 20 million people’s federal background investigations.
“The Chinese should have never been able to get into the Office of Personnel Management system,” she said. “They got there because there were gaping vulnerabilities in that system which were known and which were identified, [but] they were never closed.”
A centralized command would help block these types of intrusions, said the former business executive.
“Part of standing up the command, is understanding who dropped the ball and why,” said Fiorina, who has fallen back in the polls after a September surge. “And there needs to be consequences for that.”
Currently, the U.S. Cyber Command is overseen by Adm. Michael Rogers, who also heads the National Security Agency. Numerous other agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service, also play a role in cyber defense and investigations.
Congress and the Obama administration have been working to clarify each agency’s specific roles, approving laws that provide specific mandates. But Fiorina believes those plans need to be housed under one agency.
“The most important role of that cyber command is obviously to take hold of our cybersecurity strategy,” she said.
Fiorina also insisted the government must pass laws that would allow them to work more closely with the private sector.
She referenced major information-sharing legislation that has now passed both chambers of Congress, and could reach the president’s desk by the end of the year. The measure would provide legal liability protections for businesses willing to share with the government more data on hackers.
While many industry groups, lawmakers and even the White House have argued the bill is the necessary first step in the fight against hackers, privacy advocates have long warned the legislation would allow the intelligence community to gather up more private data on Americans.
“This isn’t about sharing information about people,” Fiorina said. “This is about Sony being able to tell the government, ‘Help, I’m under attack. Please help me.’ And it’s about the government being able to say to Google or AT&T, ‘Help, we think we’re under attack.'
“Certain things have to happen to permit that collaboration so that there is booming detecting and the ability to repel, which requires public and private networks to talk to each other,” she added.