Cyber warfare tops the list of challenges the next U.S. president must face.
Cyber warfare tops the list of challenges the next U.S. president must face.

In a brief exchange during the first of three presidential debates Monday night, Democratic candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump agreed on the importance of investing in cybersecurity and briefly sparred over whether Russian hackers have a penchant for launching cyber attacks against U.S. targets.

Noting that the U.S. faces “two adversaries” – those hackers who engage in cyber espionage and nation-state actors, Clinton pledged that the country “will not sit idly by” as Russia, Iran, China and others ramp up their attacks. “We don't want to get into another kind of war,” she said, but noted the U.S. will not back down. “Cyber warfare will be our biggest challenge.”

Clinton specifically called out Russian President Vladmir Putin for “letting loose hackers allegedly behind hacks of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and others.

But Trump contended that there was no proof that those hackers were Russian. “I don't think anyone knows whether Russia broke into the DNC,” he said, adding that the hacks could be the work of another nation-state or group or even “someone 400 pounds sitting on a bed” with a laptop.

He also said that “ISIS is beating us at our own game” in cyberspace. “We have to do better,” he said.

Clinton quickly noted that her plan for defeating ISIS includes a cyber component.