Cybersecurity Insight

Dark Horse Presidential Candidate Runs on Cybersecurity Platform

25 Nov

Is cybersecurity the most important issue in the upcoming Presidential election? One candidate certainly thinks so, and he’s banking on it being his ticket into the oval office.

Most people have heard his name, but may not know a whole lot about him – at least not the good parts. John McAfee is the former CEO of McAfee Associates, the company most well known for their McAfee Security software that is so prevalent in computers around the globe.

McAfee’s background as a security expert makes him the prime candidate to lead the Cyber Party into the 2016 Presidential election. Yes, you heard that right, the Cyber Party – a third party political group that is running on one primary premise – cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity has been a hot button topic the last several years as many companies and government organizations along with their customers and employees have been the victim of malicious cyber attacks costing millions of dollars and big ding to the reputation of each.

As the “cyber” generation continues to grow and we do most of, if not not all, our communicating, shopping, and more online cybersecurity has become one of the most important topics in mainstream conversation, yet is largely ignored in the political spectrum. Mr. McAfee hopes to change that in 2016.

One thing McAfee will have to face is questions about his checkered past. After selling his company to Intel McAfee went to Belize where his neighbor turned up dead, after which McAfee fled the country. He was eventually arrested in Guatemala and deported back to the United States. He was never officially charged in the crime.

Despite his troubles it’s difficult to deny McAfee’s expertise in the cybersecurity arena and you certainly can’t ignore his thoughts on the future and technology, “The next war, I truly believe, will be a cyber war, and it will be devastating. And the Chinese are so far ahead of us.”

He even goes as far as saying the next President of the United States has to be in expert in technology to understand the changing landscape, “Our leadership is illiterate when it comes to technology…Would you vote for a president who said, ‘I can’t read or write, but I have advisers who can explain words to me?’ You wouldn’t.”

McAfee says he believes the U.S. Government is far behind corporate America when it comes to cybersecurity and that recent attacks from China should have prompted a declaration of cyber war, instead the President asked China to agree to a hacking truce of sorts. He says this was due in part because the U.S. doesn’t have the expertise in government to win a cyber war even if there was one.

McAfee becoming President is certainly an interesting proposition even if it is a relative pipe dream. He, of course, trails heavily in any polling, and it’s unlikely most Americans will even know he’s running when they go to the voting booth next fall, however, his candidacy does raise some interesting debate about what the Presidents of the future should know.

Do we need a President who understands the cyber landscape and the ins and outs of cybersecurity? Can we have a President who knows enough, but relies on experts in his staff? Can the government even obtain enough cybersecurity talent to keep attacks at bay?

Of course, John McAfee will not be the next President of the United States, but he certainly brings up some interesting points. Worst case scenario for Mr. McAfee is he loses the election, but gets people in government talking in more detail about what we need to accomplish in the realm of cybersecurity, and that, for all intents and purposes, may be his goal in the end.

*portions of this article referenced from NBC News