Trump calls for US to use offensive cyberweapons

The country shouldn't be shy about attacking those that target its resources, he says

Donald Trump wants to use offensive cyberweapons more often.

Donald Trump at a rally in Florence, South Carolina, on Feb. 5, 2016.

Credit: Gage Skidmore/Trump Campaign

The U.S. government needs to be ready to use its offensive cyberweapons in response to attacks from other nations, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Monday.

The U.S. has significant offensive cybercapabilities, but it has been shy about deploying them, Trump said during a speech in Herdon, Virginia. "This is the warfare of the future," he said. 

The U.S. should also increase its use of cyberweapons to attack terrorists, Trump said. 

President Barack Obama has failed to protect the nation's cybersecurity and a new focus is needed, added Trump, who has largely avoided technology issues in his campaign. 

Trump said he will create an international cybersecurity task force to battle hackers, and he will ask U.S. military leaders for suggestions on how to improve the nation's cyberdefenses. 

Another team of experts will review all U.S. government cybersecurity systems. "Ultimately, all systems will be reviewed and made as secure as modern technology permits," he said. "The review team will also remain current with constantly evolving new methods of attack and will attempt to anticipate them and develop defense as often as possible before breaches occur."

Trump also called on U.S. agencies to follow "best and strongest" security practices and to set up new security training programs for all employees.

Trump didn't say how he'd pay for an overhaul of the government's IT systems, which could cost tens of billions of dollars. His description of the review team's duties to anticipate attacks mirror efforts that have been in place in the U.S. government for years.

Trump also used the speech to attack Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's operation of a private email server while she served as Obama's secretary of state.

Trump said his speech on cybersecurity was "just the beginning of a long and overdue discussion" about the issue.

Clinton released a cybersecurity plan months ago. She called on expanded investments in cybersecurity technologies and accelerated adoption of best practices such as the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework, first issued in February 2014.

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