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Cybersecurity: Where do Republicans and Democrats stand on threats?

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By contrast, the Republican document chides the White House for an overreliance on "defensive capabilities" and talks of a crying need for government and business to do a better job of sharing threat information.

Raking over the platforms' statements for shreds of meaning, cyberexperts were alternatively impressed – and depressed.

Some of these experts were, for instance, reassured by the Republican Party's focus on developing US "offensive [cyberweapon] capabilities."

"For far too long, we have sat in the background hoping that our defenses hold up, while adversaries from China and the Eastern bloc steal American IP, and conduct cyber raids against our critical infrastructure," says Jonathan Pollet, founder of Red Tiger Security, a company that specializes in securing computerized control systems that open and close vital valves and switches in industrial settings.

"We are becoming weaker as a nation because of other nation state's aggressive stance on cyber security," he writes in an e-mail. "America must fight back to win, and the GOP statements show me that they actually understand current cyber issues."

Other experts, however, said Republican calls for more cyberoffense were hollow.

"The Obama administration, from the beginning, has implemented aggressive cyberwarfare deployments against Iran," writes John Michener, chief scientist at Casaba, a cybersecurity firm that works with Microsoft and others, in an e-mail interview. β€œThe Democratic platform does not talk about this – and properly so. Cyberwarfare is typically very covert. Overt cyberwarfare is more likely to be responded to by more overt measures."

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