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Carly Fiorina on U.S. cyber defense

Sep 30, 20154 mins
CybercrimeInternet SecurityTechnology Industry

Carly Fiorina's views on centralizing cybersecurity, the OPM hack, Hillary Clinton's email server, Apple and Google's position on encryption, and cyber threats from China and Russia.

092315blog carly fiorina debate
Credit: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

On Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, we cast our votes for who will become the next President of the United States.

There are many issues voters are considering, and here at CSO we draw attention to where the candidates stand on cybersecurity. We began with the Republican candidates, as a follow up to their recent debate.

Last week we took a look at Jeb Bush on cybersecurity.  This week we turn our attention to Carly Fiorina.

On centralizing U.S. cybersecurity: Fiorina, the former HP CEO who held that title from 1999 to 2005, recently told BloombergPolitics that cybersecurity has to be a central part of any homeland security strategy, and that the U.S. government needs to centralize all its cybersecurity operations. She asserts that cybersecurity belongs under the direction of the Department of Defense (DoD) or the Office of the Director of National Intelligence – to help protect against further hacks on government agencies.

On the OPM hack: In an opinion piece that she posted on USA Today, Fiorina wrote “Sadly, a hack of this size and scope was not unexpected — and it was absolutely preventable” – referring to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) breach. Drawing on her tech background, Fiorna can deep-dive into cyber to get her points across. Her post continued – “Having led the world’s largest technology company, I understand cybersecurity protocols. And I know that things that have been considered standard industry practice for years, such as two-factor authentication, were not fully implemented.”

On encryption, Apple and Google: An article in The Hill stated that Fiorina claims the stalled Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) bill – if it were passed – could have prevented some of the recent cyberattacks on government agencies and the private sector. CISA would facilitate the exchange of cyber threat intelligence between companies – including Apple and Google – and the government. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has been an advocate for strong universal encryption – so strong that even Apple could not look at its own customers data. Apple, Google, and some other tech companies and personal privacy advocates argue that if there’s any way to access customer data, then it weakens encryption.

On Hillary Clinton’s email server: In an interview with CBS News last month, Fiorina took aim at Hillary Clinton saying, “There is no excuse for a secretary of state using a private email server and deciding emails which she’s going to keep and which she’s going to destroy”. Fiorina’s main points were that Clinton’s independent server could have been hacked, and that Clinton exercised poor cyber judgement.

On China, and Obama: In an interview on Meet the Press, Fiorina said “We’ve known for over a decade the Chinese were coming after our most important systems” and added, “We ought to make it very painful for the Chinese to be aggressive in cyber warfare”. She has openly criticized the Obama Administration in the aftermath of the OPM hack. Cyber experts have linked the hack to China, but Obama has not directly made that accusation against China. “China is rapidly evolving from a sometime partner, sometime competitor, into an adversary,” Fiorina posted on Facebook in June.

She has also called out Russia for using technology to attack the U.S.

Donald Trump on Carly Fiorina: Fiorina arguably has more tech experience than any of the presidential candidates, bringing a background in computer sales and marketing – and climbing the ranks to become CEO at Lucent and HP.  But those positions – especially her reign at HP – may prove to be her Achilles’ heel. Donald Trump (who we’ll look at next week) has trumpeted a loud horn – saying Fiorina did a terrible job at HP… and that she was even worse at Lucent. Voters will undoubtedly keep hearing about both sides of that coin.

Next week: Donald Trump on cybersecurity. (The author does not endorse any one candidate or political part in this article.)


Steve Morgan is the founder and CEO at Cybersecurity Ventures and editor in chief of the Cybersecurity Market Report. The Cybersecurity Market Report is published quarterly and covers the business of cybersecurity, including global market sizing and industry forecasts from consolidated research by IT analyst firms, emerging trends, employment, the federal sector, hot companies to watch, notable M&A, investment and IPO activity, and more.