Donald Trump takes over the presidency at a time of increased anxiety about cybersecurity and consumer privacy. High-profile data breaches at insurance companies, healthcare providers, major retailers, government agencies – and his vanquished opponent’s own aides-- illustrate a need for action.

“Government regulations are forcing us to open up our systems and transmit our data, yet we are left to defend ourselves from the hackers who want to steal all the free-flowing data,” says Pamela McNutt, senior vice president and CIO at Methodist Health System. “As threats grow, so does the amount of money providers must spend to secure their environments.”

On the stump, Trump was sometimes aloof about the cyber threat. When it was suggested that Russian agents had hacked the Democratic National Committee, Trump famously said, “It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?”

But he also was able to leverage his opponent’s weakness on the subject to his advantage. As Hillary Clinton wrestled with the fallout from the investigation into her use of a private e-mail server while Secretary of State, and e-mails from her chief of staff John Podesta trickled out over the course of months , Trump seized the opportunity to differentiate himself.

“Hillary Clinton's only experience in cybersecurity involves a criminal scheme to violate federal law, engineering a massive coverup and putting the nation in harm's way," Trump said to the Retired American Warriors PAC in October.

In terms of his actual plan, Trump favored speaking of the cyber threat in military terms. His site says he plans to order “an immediate review of all U.S. cyber defenses and vulnerabilities, including critical infrastructure, by a Cyber Review Team of individuals from the military, law enforcement, and the private sector.” That team would be tasked with “recommendations for safeguarding different entities with the best defense technologies tailored to the likely threats, and will followed up regularly at various Federal agencies and departments.”

Trump also proposes:

  • Mandatory cyber awareness training for all government employees while remaining current on evolving methods of cyber-attack.
  • Joint Task Forces created by the Department of Justice that would coordinate federal, state, and local law enforcement responses to cyber threats.
  • Order the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to provide recommendations for enhancing U.S. Cyber Command, with a focus on both offense and defense in the cyber domain.
  • Develop the offensive cyber capabilities we need to deter attacks by both state and non-state actors and, if necessary, to respond appropriately.

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