Tom Donilon’s July 16 Sunday Opinion commentary, “How to hack-proof the next election,” hit the target in citing the need for public-private partnerships to tackle the issue of cybersecurity, yet he predictably called for more bureaucracy (“a cyber-FEMA”) to tackle an issue that yearns for private-sector innovation and collaboration. History has shown that government agencies have been too lax with their cybersecurity efforts. A problem that threatens the “sovereignty” of a nation demands the best and brightest, often in the private sector.
Any interference in our election system is primarily a national security issue, which demands the work of tech companies and public agencies to pool information, resources and talent to protect our democracy’s most vital asset: our citizens. Mr. Donilon correctly cited the importance of information-sharing between entities, yet this strategy must be extended down to our citizens, by these entities, in their daily lives as parents, employees, employers and students. The anonymity of cyberspace makes all of our institutions vulnerable to the whims of nation-states that have incorporated a hybrid warfare strategy as part of their foreign policy. It’s the new reality of the digital age as nations’ physical military forces are downsized to nationalistic hackers. The true strength of our society will lie in how we educate, train and empower our citizens through creative solutions from the public-private partnerships formed to tackle the cybersecurity problems of today.