Opinion: Cybersecurity becoming a growing concern

Alexis Atwater is a freshman political science major and a member of the Kent State College Democrats. Contact her at aatwater@kent.edu

Alexis Atwater is a freshman political science major and a member of the Kent State College Democrats. Contact her at [email protected]

Alexis Atwater Kent State College Democrats

Earlier this week, Mossack Fonseca, one of the largest law firms in the world, was apparently the latest victim of a data breach. Much of what was included in the more than 11.5 million leaked documents indicates that the law firm was helping the world’s rich and powerful establish offshore accounts in Panama. Twelve current and former world leaders—and another 128 politicians and public officials—were allegedly using the Central American nation as a tax haven.

Mossack Fonseca maintains that it hasn’t done anything illegal by Panamanian law, and it is worth noting that much of the leaked data remains unconfirmed (although Iceland’s prime minister resigned amid allegations about an account held by his wife). The ability of hackers to target a company with every reason to have the strongest data protections available lays bare the threat of cyber terrorism.

This data breach, and those that have come before it, bring to light the necessity of strong U.S. policies on cybersecurity. Both Democratic contenders for the presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, have addressed this issue on the campaign trail along with the importance of balancing national security needs with individual privacy rights. On her campaign website, Clinton states that she “will leverage the work of the public and private sectors—overcoming the mistrust that impedes cooperation today—to strengthen security and build resiliency for economy and infrastructure,” while Sanders has said he “has expressed concern over the vulnerability of U.S. cybersecurity, but also over mass surveillance.”

Clinton and Sanders have both worked to improve cybersecurity in the United States during their time in the Senate. Sanders was a supporter of the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, but the bill did not garner enough votes for cloture to move to a full Senate vote. This act would have created a council that would regulate cybersecurity and also start building an infrastructure to make it easier to monitor cyber threats. Sanders also voted against the controversial Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015, which passed through Senate in October, over concerns that it violated the privacy of American citizens. Clinton has stated in multiple speeches and interviews that she believes cybersecurity will be a top priority for the next president.

This is undoubtedly true, especially considering the constant advancement in the ability of hackers to infiltrate even the most secure networks. With the conventions and November elections looming, it is imperative that the American public consider how the implementation of cybersecurity infrastructure will benefit the nation, and choose leaders who will take a strong stance to prevent data breaches like the one in Panama this week.

The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Kent State College Democrats as an organization.