As the world begins to digest Donald Trump’s shocking victory in the U.S. presidential elections, in this piece I will try to capture the meaning of such a major development for the world of cybersecurity.
Analysts from across the globe involved in security and foreign policy made different warnings, such as Russian hackers would be emboldened to fuel chaos into the presidential campaign and the now crisis-stricken Democratic Party. And they did not disappoint. Even Election Day in America witnessed an alt-right hacking attempt, as 4Chan witnessed a huge poster appear aimed at targeting a phone bank encouraging voters to cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton. However, this attempt backfired as both Democratic and Republican efforts on the phones were compromised. The privacy activist community, including Edward Snowden, are warning Trump will abuse surveillance powers already expanded by the Obama Administration. Such activists called on the American nation to resort to encryption tools to protect their interests.
Russian hackers launch further cyberattacks after U.S. election
A series of cyberattacks surfaced less than 24 hours after U.S. election results were sealed. Kremlin-linked hackers, the same group that allegedly targeted the DNC, resurfaced with a new wave of attacks aiming at universities and think tanks across America, Radio Free Europe and the State Department. Malware-laced phishing emails were sued in this assault, with the letters claiming to provide election data, as Motherboard reported, itself receiving a such forwarded message. The malware inside these emails was hidden inside images and designed to establish secret backdoors into the computers of any user opening them.
Obama to hand over surveillance authority to Trump
As the pro-privacy community is going the limits to voice anti-Trump sentiment, it’s worth noting that Obama shoulders much of the responsibility for the monitoring & surveillance authority he is about to wield to Trump. Obama lost the opportunity to renounce the expansion of monitoring/surveillance authority that came to life under his predecessor George Bush, as explained by Freedom of the Press Foundation Executive Director Trevor Timm. Obama also failed to significantly backtrack the spying authority gifted to the National Security Agency even after revelations made by whistleblower Edward Snowden. There are many considering this as one of Obama’s gravest of mistakes.
Trump demanding data raises concerns in Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley may have only gone through a dress rehearsal in its iPhone and Whatsapp encryption battles against the Justice Department of Barack Obama. A DoJ under Trump is now raising concerns amongst tech firms over the possibility of more intrusive demands involving providing users’ private data. Various tech companies are currently considering relocating their servers, and even headquarters, outside of U.S. borders to place them outside of Trump’s legal reach. It is a known fact that Trump has called for an Apple boycott in response to the company’s refusal to back the FBI by writing software aimed at cracking its encrypted iPhone earlier this year.
How to strengthen your cybersecurity measures in 2017 and beyond
Considering the concerns raised over the possibility of escalated domestic monitoring under a Trump administration, private activists are providing advice to the American public to adopt tools of new encryption and privacy technology. This particularly includes journalists, activists, and any other individual planning to stand against the policies of a new White House. However, the nature of these security tips are nothing groundbreaking in comparison to those provided prior to the Election Tuesday.
Seriously consider using calling apps such as Signal, encrypted texting, the anonymity software known as Tor whenever possible, strong passwords provided by a password generator/manager software, double-layer authentication, websites equipped with HTTPS encryption, and a general practice of taking advantage of services provided by various companies including Apple that are known to stand against government privacy intruding measures. This is contrast to other companies such as Yahoo with report cards of bowing to various spying demands placed forward by the U.S. administration.
“Mayor of America” as Trump’s cybersecurity czar?
Loving to “become the person [in the Trump Administration] that comes up with a solution to cybersecurity” were the remarks made by former NYC mayor Rudi Giuliani in an interview with Fox News on Thursday. Having the experience of a federal prosecutor in the 1980s and known for his famous role as mayor of the Big Apple, Giuliani and a number of his mayor office confidants in 2002 launched the Giuliani Partners, a firm focusing on management and security consulting. The Greenberg Traurig law firm recently brought him on board as chief of cybersecurity and crisis management practice. This is one development we will have to closely follow as the world awaits the candidates of the Trump administration.