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Cybersecurity: Where do Republicans and Democrats stand on threats?

While US defense officials are warning of the increased threat of cyberattack on strategic US targets, cybersecurity experts were underwhelmed by the parties' platforms on the issue.

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US defense officials warn of the increasing threat of cyberattacks on the nation’s power grid, natural gas pipelines, and other strategic infrastructure, but what do the two political parties and their candidates know about these threats – and what will they do to thwart them?

The US could be hit with a "cyber Pearl Harbor," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta acknowledged in a June Senate hearing. Gen. Keith Alexander, who heads the Pentagon's new US Cyber Command, warned at a security conference in July that on a 1-to-10 scale, American readiness for a major cyberattack is “around a 3.”

Both political parties do recognize, at least, that such threats are quickly becoming a major new US national security problem for the 21st century – as warnings buried deep in their respective political platforms acknowledge.

The Democratic platform, on page 60, spends not quite 200 words on cybersecurity, with the GOP giving the topic twice as much space on pages 41-42. The Democratic script cites "unprecedented steps" taken by the Obama administration to defend America from cyberattacks, including creating the military's new Cyber Command.

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