As the 2020 U.S. presidential election nears, there has been a rise in mercenary hacking groups and cyber espionage. Some say this a direct result of the current administrations’ increasingly isolationist global foreign policy, and that the U.S.’ status in the global cyber domain should be a major discussion point before November.
According to David Wolpoff (moose), a career hacker, the Trump administration's dismantling of international orders (ex: withdraws from Asia-Pacific trade agreement; Paris Climate Accord; Iran Nuclear Deal), is diminishing the U.S.’ ability to enforce its cyber objectives. Global economic engagement creates safety in U.S. cyberspace - treaties create legal accountability; they’re a mechanism preventing hacking, he says.
"Global economic engagement enhances safety in U.S. cyberspace - treaties create legal accountability; they’re a mechanism to discourage hacking. Without strong relationships overseas, it is impossible to extradite an accused criminal for trial. When we have treaties and agreements with other nations, it creates a system of trust and makes governments want to work together to continue the good will," moose says. "However, over the course of the past four years, the Trump administration has dismantled international orders, treaties and stripped aid payments among historical US allies, for example withdrawing from Paris Climate Accord; Iran Nuclear Deal; distancing the US from NATO and the WHO; and even sanctioning the International Criminal Court."
moose adds, "These practices are diminishing the US’ ability to enforce its cyber objectives. In the past couple weeks we’ve seen several indictments for Iranian hackers and Chinese hackers, attacking American universities and companies, non-profit organizations and think tanks. But what’s going to actually happen to those that were indicted? The indictments are only effective if the accused attackers are located in countries which extradite to the United States, otherwise there is no way they can undergo trial. Without any international ties or loyalty, these indictments are largely ceremonial."
Without geopolitical agreements creating infrastructure, the U.S. is degrading its ability to enforce regulations in cyberspace, he claims. "The current administration's increasing isolationism and cutting of international bonds, sets the U.S. up to be able to do little more than issue accusations of guilt with no teeth. Now that the walls are crumbling, an increase in mercenary hacking groups and cyber espionage is unsurprising. Without geopolitical agreements creating infrastructure, the U.S. is degrading its ability to enforce its own interests in cyberspace.”