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October 6, 2015

Start the Cybersecurity Conversation Now, Before the Candidates Do

Cybersecurity – long dismissed as too complicated and not sexy enough to make headlines – is rapidly becoming too big a matter to ignore. That’s bound to happen when you have more than 150 million records exposed in 2015 and large scale data breaches are up 400 percent this year alone.

Yet, politicians, in general, and Presidential candidates, specifically, still have their heads in the sand when it comes to cyber. But, with almost half of Americans saying that candidates have not said enough about cybersecurity — and a recent Vrge Analytics survey that shows more than 20 percent of Americans predicting that digital systems will face attacks from outsiders that will have a large impact on society and the economy in the next decade –that is bound to change.

It is time for industry and government to take a much more proactive stance.

If you search the 21 sites of the current Republican and Democratic candidates, you won’t find a single page dedicated to cybersecurity. Only one candidate, Jeb Bush, does present a five-point plan to improve America’s defenses against digital threats, but there is nothing specific.

Perhaps some political handlers and message makers might wait for poll numbers to rise even higher before taking action. But it is just a matter of time before someone uses a cybersecurity related issue to tap into the energy of the electorate. If it doesn’t win the White House, a strong cybersecurity message could still help the right candidate take a Congressional seat.

There is obviously a vacuum when it comes to cyber policy and the cybersecurity industry shouldn’t wait on the sidelines for candidates to speak up. It will be too late.

How many hacks will it take before the light bulb goes on on Capitol Hill? That sounds like a joke but we are reaching critical mass where the light bulb goes from dim to bright. Some forward-thinking politicians will eventually view cybersecurity policy as a critical piece of both our national defense and economic policies.

White hats need someone who can tell the White House that Zeus, DarkComet, and Poison Ivy are not just characters from a summer blockbuster. Industry leaders can’t wait for lawmakers to come to them while they re-write the Digital Millennium Copyright Act or debate the Cybersecurity Information Security Act.
They need legislators and regulators to understand the investments that need to be made to develop cyber protections that do not squash innovation.

In short, now is the time for cybersecurity leaders to engage Washington before someone else does it first.

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