"It will be important for any candidate to not only articulate their concern for cybersecurity but to also share a concrete plan for how they will incorporate the expertise of respected experts who can help craft practical, effective, and sustainable cybersecurity policies,” added Melancon.Meanwhile, 32 percent of the survey's participants believed that some of the candidates would discuss cybersecurity but that those conversations would consist largely of rhetoric and hardly any substantive policy recommendations. The remaining 14 percent of respondents felt that cybersecurity would not factor as a key issue in the 2016 Presidential race. The fact that most respondents felt cybersecurity would become a topic of discussion among presidential hopefuls influenced how they approached other parts of Tripwire's survey. For instance, when asked whether they would vote for a presidential candidate that does not have a strong position on cybersecurity policy, close to three-quarters (68 percent) of participants stated "no." This finding suggests that politicians will need to outline how they would approach cybersecurity at some point in their presidential campaigns, especially in light of the growing number of data breaches and targeted attacks against American retailers. “Politicians haven’t become more literate on the cybersecurity issue, but they certainly have become more aware of the financial results of inaction,” said Tim Erlin, director of IT security and risk strategy for Tripwire.
“There’s no doubt that recent incidents, such as last year's Sony hack and the recent OPM breach, have raised the political profile of cybersecurity in this country, driven not by a renewed interest in technology but by the increasingly disastrous effects of successful attacks. While the majority of respondents view cybersecurity policy as a key issue, there has been little agreement on the details of how government should be involved," Erlin said.Most political candidates still have yet to outline a definitive cybersecurity policy. For instance, Republican hopeful Jeb Bush, who has limited his comments on cybersecurity to placing greater restrictions on the encryption standards available to private tech companies like Apple and Google, has yet to make any reference to it on his actual campaign website.
"There's a place to find common ground between personal civil liberties and [the National Security Agency] doing its job," the former Florida governor is quoted to have said. "I think the balance has actually gone the wrong way."Bush went on to explain that encryption "makes it harder for the American government to do its job" and called for "a new arrangement with Silicon Valley" to address what he termed as a "dangerous situation." Up-and-coming Republican candidate and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carley Fiorina echoed Bush's sentiments when she stated that tech giants should "collaborate and cooperate" with the federal government in tackling cybersecurity issues, including encryption.