While the general topic of cyber has not played a major role in the Presidential election thus far, Ohio Governor and GOP Presidential hopeful John Kasich recently announced that if he were to win the election, he would “beef up” the U.S. Cyber Command and would go on the offensive by launching critical infrastructure attacks against state-sponsored hackers that threaten the United States. Kasich explained, when asked a question about state-sponsored hackers within the Chinese government, that the next president must do more than President Obama. “[W]hen it comes to the issue of cyberattacks, we’re going to have to beef up the cyber command,” he said, “And they need to understand that if you attack us, we will defend ourselves, everything, including our grid. But if you do it, we have the capability to take out your systems. The president has not given the Cyber Command that authority. I will.”
This concern has risen after the United States blamed China for recent data breaches affecting both the U.S. government and public corporations, including the data breach of the Office of Personnel Management which compromised personal information of more than 20 million federal employees and contractors. While President Obama and President Xi Jinping did make an agreement to cease all hacking attempts, the results of the pact remain unclear. In response to the Presidents’ relative lax stance on the matter (the two presidents claimed to have reached a “common understanding”), Kasich further explained, “People have to know that if you are going to mess with us, that not only are we in a position to defend ourselves, but also come back at them.” As the election begins to heat up in the near future, we are sure to hear more on the topic of state-sponsored cyber-attacks.