Republican presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Super PACs release ad campaign hitting Vance over past comments on Trump Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal MORE on Monday morning vowed to establish a “cyber review team” to bolster federal agencies' online security.
The group would be made of military, civilian and private cybersecurity experts who would systematically review the security of each federal agency, investigate suspected hackers and train federal employees — and ultimately prevent breaches before they occur, Trump said.
“There are ways of doing this through modern technology, but we are not using that, and, frankly, our technology is not up to date,” Trump said during a speech at a Retired American Warriors PAC event in Herndon, Va.
The security of federal agencies has been in the spotlight since suspected Chinese hackers managed to pilfer the personal information of millions of current and former federal employees, contractors and others from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
The agency has been criticized for effectively "leaving the barn door open" for hackers to get in.
Critics have also targeted departments for relying on woefully outdated technology, although the administration has made incremental progress in managing and securing IT systems, according to a scorecard released in May by the House Oversight Committee.
Trump’s cyber review team would start by assessing “the most sensitive systems” first, according to the nominee, and would conduct followup reviews on a regular basis.
The group would also formulate protocols for each agency and official “requiring them to follow the best and strongest practices,” as well as establish a training and continuing education program so that “everyone is aware of the newest methods of attack and defense.”
A number of officials have been victimized in recent years by “phishing” techniques, in which hackers trick a victim into providing authentic login credentials.
Trump did not provide any information on how the program would be funded.
The Republican nominee also vowed to ensure that the U.S. military is “the best in the world in both cyber offense and defense.”
Trump said he will solicit advice from the secretary of Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff on how to strengthen U.S. Cyber Command, currently the subject of a dispute over whether it should be spun off into a fully fledged combatant command or remain under the dual-hatted command of National Security Agency (NSA) head Adm. Michael Rogers.
He also argued that the U.S. must bolster its offensive capabilities.
“As a deterrent against attacks on our critical resources, the United States must possess the unquestioned capacity to launch crippling cyber counterattacks, and I mean crippling — crippling,” Trump said.
“This is the warfare of the future. America’s dominance in this arena must be unquestioned, and today it’s totally questioned.”
President Obama recently said that the U.S. has “more capacity than any other country, both offensively and defensively,” but warned against a “cycle of escalation.”
The White House has largely approached attacks on a case-by-case basis, which critics say is an ineffective deterrence method.
In May, the Department of Justice indicted seven Iranians for a series of coordinated cyberattacks against the U.S. financial sector and for infiltrating a New York dam in 2013.
But it has yet to publicly attribute the hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), despite widespread consensus that Russia was behind the breach.
Officials have long called for the U.S. to set some international norms governing behavior in cyberspace.
Obama last September negotiated a pledge with Chinese President Xi Jinping stipulating that neither nation will hack the other’s private companies for commercial gain.
But many lawmakers have grown frustrated with what they see as an inexact answer from the administration on what would constitute an act of war in cyberspace.