Exclusive — Carly Fiorina on Cybersecurity: ‘Now, It’s Urgent’

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina addresses the Republican Jewish Coalition
Alex Wong/Getty Images

GOP presidential candidate former Hewett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina tells Breitbart News exclusively about the need for the government to engage the private sector in order to help protect American citizens from detected cyber and terrorist attacks.

“This administration isn’t leveraging the private sector at all. Politicians right now are arguing over the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act was written 14-years-ago and technology has gone through probably four generations since then,” Fiorina explained to Breitbart News, adding President “Obama’s cybersecurity strategy was written three years ago and technology has gone through a generation since then.”

I mean we didn’t have Instagram. We didn’t have Snapchat. We barely had been introduced to the iPad, and so bureaucracies don’t innovate, the private sector does and we need to be leveraging the most sophisticated technology in the world, which is right here in this country to help us defeat the bad guys, I will.

The debate over the Patriot Act comes as a Super PAC backing fellow GOP presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) took a swipe at competitor Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) arguing that Cruz teamed up with the Obama administration to weaken national security by voting for the USA Freedom Act, which ended the NSA’s bulk data collection.

Fiorina, who spent time advising the government during her time as CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HP) and who Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) – Fiorina’s competitor in the 2010 election – previously referred to as “a leader in the new economy,” says technology moves so quickly that the Patriot Act is generations behind, as well as the Obama Administration’s cybersecurity strategy.

Fiorina told Breitbart News “a lifetime of politics is not necessarily the right kind of experience anymore. It matters that you understand technology.” Fiorina added, “Neither of the other two outsiders, with all due respect, have any of the experience that I have.”

When Fiorina was CEO at Hewlett-Packard, the NSA called her after the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 asking for help.

“They needed help getting a large amount of equipment very quickly. The reason they needed help getting that large amount of equipment quickly was because they were trying to stand up their ability to track people that were of a suspicious nature,” Fiorina explained.

I diverted a lot of equipment from paying customers to the government in a very short period of time. I was happy to do it, obviously. It’s an example of the opportunity to leverage the private sector in a far more effective way than the government usually does.

Fiorina told Breitbart News there are three actions that she would take if she were President of the United States to bring America’s cybersecurity strategy up to date.

“Number one, I would retaliate against China and Russia. They have hacked into some of our most sensitive systems and we haven’t done much about it,” she said, vowing, “I would retaliate.”

“Number two, I would stand up a centralized cyber command, and that command would be responsible for all aspects of our government response,” she said.

Fiorina explained that as the Commander-in-Chief, she would get to the bottom of why government officials haven’t been competent in preventing cybersecurity attacks. “Let me pause on that, the Chinese should have never been able to get into the Office of Personnel Management system,” she stated.

They got there because there were gapping vulnerabilities in that system which were known and which were identified, [but] they were never closed. Part of standing up the command, is understanding who dropped the ball and why. And there needs to be consequences for that. But the most important role of that cyber command is obviously to take hold of our cybersecurity strategy.

For Fiorina’s third action, she says she would engage the private sector differently.

“First that means there has to be laws that have to be passed. There are some things that have to be permissible legally, which would allow the private sector and the public sector to share information,” she said.

Fiorina explained that today it is difficult for the private sector to tell the public sector about potential cyber attacks they are detecting, and vice versa.

This isn’t about sharing information about people. This is about Sony being able to tell the government, “Help, I’m under attack. Please help me.” And it’s about the government being able to say to say, Google or AT&T, “Help, we think we’re under attack,” so certain things have to happen to permit that collaboration so that there is booming detecting and the ability to repel, which requires public and private networks to talk to each other.

As President of the United States, Fiorina said she would bring “the best and the brightest” from private technology companies to the White House to get their help in several areas.

One of the places we need help is to deal with all of these encrypted communications. You can’t outlaw encryption. Encryption protects American consumers from identity theft, and all the rest of it. But we have to be able to work around it where necessary to give our investigators the information they need. I’d ask the private sector’s help in that.

She said it’s similar to World War II when the president engaged the private sector in helping build bombs and ships.

“We need to engage the private sector in an unprecedented way again because we’re at war of a different kind,” she explained, “I know this community. I know this industry. I know these people. I will engage them.”

She said it’s important to balance national security with protecting American citizens’ right to privacy.

Fiorina explained that when metadata is collected, what one is able to see are addresses, not content. “It’s important for people to understand that because they’ve misunderstood that, and this address is one phone number to another phone number, that’s it,” she said, adding, “There is no content discussed. “

Fiorina said encryption is important because “ISIS has help desks now. ISIS is teaching people how to disappear online. They have online help desks.”

“Now, if a bunch of terrorists in Iraq can figure that out – using commonly available technology – then the most sophisticated industry in the world can help us figure out how do we thwart those efforts of people who are already under suspicion,” she explained. “We need to understand what they’re doing and how they’re hiding.”

That’s not an ordinary American citizen by the way. That’s someone who has traveled to the war zone and come back, and that’s someone who’s already on our list, that’s all these people that we’re worried about. We need to know why they’re hiding in plane sight on the web or in our neighborhood.

Fiorina referenced the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California as an example of the need for encryption and allowing the private and public sector to collaborate and work together.

What we now know and this was ineptitude that we missed all this, frankly. I mean we were collecting metadata and we missed all of this, but what we now know that these people were radicalized years ago, but they were on websites being radicalized and seeking out others. It’s ineptitude that we missed that.

Fiorina added, “But had we not missed it, then sorry. If you’re getting radicalized on websites and traveling into the war zone, you’re not an ordinary American citizen. You’re somebody trying to do us harm potentially.”

Breitbart News asked Fiorina why there are laws that keep the private sector from coming to the public sector with information about potential or detected cyber attacks.

“The first honest answer is this administration has no sense of urgency about this,” Fiorina said. “They never have. This administration hasn’t put a priority on this. As an example, President Obama rolled out with great fan fare his cybersecurity strategy in 2011. It has never been implemented and it has never been updated. That is a lack of urgency.”

There are some very specific laws on the books that make it hard for the private and the public sector to share information without for example, fear that that information will turn that companies website into a crime scene or without being sued and so there is a law sitting in Congress…and that law has to get passed to permit this kind of collaboration for early detection. And frankly, what happened I think is after the Edward Snowden revelations, the politicians lost their nerve about how to talk about this with the American public and so the law is just languishing. No one is bringing it up.

“Basically, what that would do is, it would remove the hurdles and the risks from the private sector in communicating with the public sector.” Fiorina stressed, “Now, it’s urgent.”


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