May 16, 2019 | 6 min read
Trump’s National Emergency Misleads the Public about Real IT Threats
On May 15, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency to protect the security of the US from IT threats.
The respective executive order authorizes the Commerce Secretary to block transactions involving informational technologies that “pose an unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States.”
Although the order does not name any specific business entities, it is believed that such action will first and foremost affect Huawei, a Chinese tech giant that would profit from expansion into the US market. Notably, Huawei is the world’s largest developer of telecom equipment and is likely to control 40-60% of the networks around the world in the coming years. Moreover, Huawei offers next-generation 5G network technology and equipment. 5G is a new generation of mobile broadband which will enable exponentially faster web connection. However, the Trump administration believes that if it is deployed by Huawei, it can be used for spying by the Chinese.
The national emergency unfolds in the midst of escalating trade tension between the United States and China, thus making it more a matter of global affairs than of information security.
“While we understand President Trump’s concern about the risk foreign equipment poses, we believe that his recent executive order deflects public attention from much broader information security challenges,” says Alun Baker, CEO at Kromtech, creators of MacKeeper. “Today, cybercrime is at an epidemic level.”
The scale of cybercrime is indeed enormous. More than 11 billion personal records have leaked since 2005; every two seconds, another personal ID is stolen in the US; the average computer with an internet connection faces a hacking attack every 39 seconds. The information security risk posed by 5G technology is, in fact, that cybercriminals will be able to carry out attacks with greater force and impact rather than foreign espionage. For this reason, speaking of it only in the context of international surveillance is misleading and increases the likelihood that the public will overlook critical and more probable cyber threats as well as their roles in mitigating those threats.
As Baker emphasizes, “People are at risk when using virtually any connected device—from their mobile phones to smart home systems. In other words, cybersecurity threats are now everywhere around us.”
While Trump’s executive order addresses one aspect of cybersecurity concerns, it hijacks IT threats rhetoric, driving people to misinterpret the level of risk foreign technologies pose. The action is more likely a play in complex political and economic agendas. Sadly, as a consequence, there is a real risk that this action will confuse the public about critical digital security risks, drive apathy, and make technology users more vulnerable to other threats that actually depend on their vigilant attitude.
“It would be more constructive to draw public attention to the challenges of personal security and privacy. A lot has to be done to educate people on the risks that their day-to-day digital activities pose and how these risks can be mitigated,” Baker says.
At Kromtech, we have a corporate mission to put people at the center of everything that we do. Our aim is to demystify and clarify information security issues and help people protect themselves in order to feel safe in a digital world.
To enable people to deal with real and diverse technological threats, we constantly provide expert recommendations. If you are concerned about your digital privacy and web protection, it’s a good idea to be personally proactive in your cybersecurity, starting with these 30 easy privacy protection steps.