Was the Election Hack the Real Issue?

Was the Election Hack the Real Issue?

Now that the election is over, politicians on both sides of the aisle continue to underwhelm and disappoint me. What’s new?! The new debate centers around:

  1. Whether it was the Russian government that hacked political operatives or someone else
  2. If it was the Russian government, what was their motive?

To me, both sides have missed the target again! The question isn’t who hacked and why. The real question is why our political systems and strategists were not secured. Neither side should have been breached! Our leaders should have recognized the cyber threat and walked the walk.

There should be public outrage that the systems were not secure. The government’s mission is to understand our nation’s threats to national and economic security and get in front of them to protect our information. People are picking sides on the issue of who did it and what their motive was. Instead they should all be outraged that over 20 years after being put on notice, continued ignorance prevails.

Think about it. The mission of the Intelligence Community of every country is to affect and influence other governments’ national and economic security for the benefit of their own country. That’s their job. We shouldn’t blame a dog for chasing a cat. That’s its job. Our country had better be doing the same thing to other countries; otherwise we’re certainly wasting trillions of our taxpayer dollars on NSA and CyberCom.

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It’s the responsibility of leaders of both parties to recognize the threat and provide priority resources to counter that threat. This should have started over 20 years ago. Instead we see whining that the enemy attacked them. The enemy should not have been able to get in and compromise the system.

So what is our government going to do now that they recognize their miserable failure? Senator Sam Nunn had Senate hearings on the cyber threat to national security that I led back in 1996 (you can watch the video here: https://www.c-span.org/video/?72394-1/computer-security). Over 20 years ago, Senator Sam Nunn, Minority Leader of the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, and other members like my hero Senator John Glenn (RIP), Joe Lieberman, Carl Levin, and William Cohen all got it, but unfortunately other government leaders from both parties ignored the problem because they didn’t understand the technology.

Unfortunately, our leaders always prepare to fight the last war and not the future war. One party should be embarrassed by what was exposed by the alleged Russian hacking. But even more so, they should be embarrassed that the Russians were even able to access the information to begin with. Our leaders of both parties have received a wake-up call (again)! Write or call your government leaders to get them to stop playing politics and instead recognize and address the real problem.

We now have one party that will lead the Senate, the House, and the Executive Branch: an opportunity to finally address the cyber threat. So far all I hear is crickets. Address the real question. It’s not the dog’s fault.



Jim Christy is VP of Investigations and Digital Forensics at Cymmetria. Jim retired from the U.S. government in 2013, ending a career investigating computer crimes and running digital forensics labs that began in 1986 at the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

Jim can be reached by email at jim@cymmetria.com.

Connect with Jim on Twitter: @jimchristyusdfc

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