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Tom Ridge: Election security is not the only security

Illustration: Axios Visuals

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Election security is sucking up all the oxygen in policy conversations these days. Tom Ridge, former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, worries Congress is letting other aspects of cybersecurity slip through the cracks.

Quoted: “No one thinks democracy is as important as Tom Ridge,” he said, “but our economic security is at stake.“

“We should be as obsessed with cybersecurity as we are with elections,” said Ridge, also a former Pennsylvania Governor and a recent add to the board of alliantgroup, which helps find tax rebates for cybersecurity firms.

  • Ridge worries that broad cybersecurity threats to businesses and critical infrastructure are being thrust to the wayside while lawmakers focus most of their attention on election security.
  • He believes lawmakers will need to focus on more than one aspect of cybersecurity at a time, which has so far been a difficult ask.
  • To wit: A few years ago, automotive hacking was the hip topic for legislation, but faded into the background when election hacking stole most of the attention. Election hacking even swallowed up the next major breach as well, even though Equifax's massive scope seemed tailor-made to spur legislation.

Homeland has no real home: Jurisdictional problems make legislation even more difficult, said Ridge. Despite having a committee called the Homeland Security Committee, every committee maintains an interest in the security of whatever it is it discusses. “Government wasn’t designed to regulate security,” he said. “I spent more time on The Hill talking to committees than Donald Rumsfeld, and the DOD had two wars going on.”

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