Rudolph Giuliani, a possessed sack of human flesh and crooked teeth, wants to take up the cyber reins in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration. Installing someone with such questionable experience would likely be a complete disaster for America’s cybersecurity woes.
“I’d love to become the person that comes up with a solution to cybersecurity,” America’s most influential gremlin said this morning on Fox News.
Giuliani probably thinks he’s the right guy to fix this problem because he and his friend started a cybersecurity company in 2005. But this embarrassing Marketwatch interview with Giuliani from January reveals he probably has no idea what he’s talking about. The interview makes it seem like Giuliani is more a savvy business person who cashed in on the emerging issue of cybersecurity, rather than someone who has deep knowledge of the issues. More on this in a second.
Let’s make one thing clear: Strong cybersecurity and a Trump administration are not compatible. Cybersecurity, and especially cybersecurity policy, requires patience, hiring smart people, a deep and thorough understanding of the issues, and a commitment to privacy and security.
“Only by understanding technology and its vulnerabilities can policymakers successfully address online threats without creating new, more significant risks. In any cybersecurity discussions, policymakers must include technologists as well as the people whose safety and security are most directly affected,” Drew Mitnick, policy counsel at Access, told Gizmodo. “They must also act with the understanding that the rights that exist offline, such as privacy and freedom of expression, exist equally as strongly online.”
These things are not qualities that Donald Trump—or his goons—are known for embracing. When the FBI made the unprecedented move of demanding Apple subvert its own security features by building a tool to gain access to San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook’s iPhone (a case that the FBI later dropped) Trump’s first reaction was to “boycott Apple.” This is not an intelligent response to the challenges surrounding encryption and law enforcement.
But back to Giuliani’s train wreck of an interview about cybersecurity. The core premise of Giuliani’s cybersecurity philosophy seems to be throwing money at the problem. Like most other issues, throwing money at the wrong solution can actually make the problem worse, and that couldn’t be more true when it comes to cybersecurity. Here’s a selection from the transcript:
Marketwatch: Was cybersecurity ever a concern while you were mayor?
Giuliani: It wasn’t as great of an issue then because we weren’t digitized. We got digitized for Y2K. We spent $300 million on Y2K. They told me computers were going to change when the millennium hit. Then we had all these people who said all sorts of crazy things — the subways would stop running, the jails would get emptied, the moon would fall. We basically had to back up all of our systems. Y2K comes, Y2K goes, no problem. For the next year, all I do is harangue them for costing me that $300 million. Then Sept. 11 happened. I said, we should have spent $500 million. We recreated our emergency management center in 2.5 hours after it was destroyed.
For those who want a little insight into Giuliani’s decision-making process, you may remember that, as mayor, he decided to place New York City’s emergency command center in the World Trade Center, despite objections from a panel of police experts and the Secret Service.
The Marketwatch interview does little to show off Giuliani’s understanding of cybersecurity issues, and more to make him seems like a greedy bastard looking to line his own pockets.
MW: So Giuliani Partners began penetration-testing companies — attacking from the outside to find vulnerabilities hackers may exploit — back in 2003?
RG: 2004, 2005 by the time we got started.
MW: How many clients did you have back then?
RG: Maybe 30.
MW: Did you find that anyone cared about cybersecurity back then?
RG: These were all friends of mine, friends of his. They’d give me a nice meeting and they’d look at me, and they’d look at the bill. And the bill was high, but it wasn’t high for them — $10 million, $20 million, something like that. It wasn’t like the kind of money they’re spending now. (laughs)
So, because Giuliani made a bunch of money selling expensive cybersecurity services to his friends in the early 2000s—when the state of cybersecurity was completely different as it is today— he thinks he would be well equipped to tackle the multiple facets of America’s cybersecurity issue.
Giuliani has always been a clown, but the idea of him leading America’s cybersecurity push as we go deeper into the digital age is nothing short of terrifying.