Former homeland security secretary speaks out on cyber threats

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Tom Ridge takes a stroll through his office, Ridge Global, a security consulting firm in Washington D.C. A position fitting for the first Homeland Security Advisor, appointed in the days after 9/11.

“I think the nature of terrorism has changed and look at the tools now. They’ve gone from that to knives, vehicles, guns almost back to the future," Ridge said.

The terror he believes, moves into the digital age. One of the things the former Pennsylvania Governor does at his firm is protect people from cyber threats. Attacks Ridge called the ‘new normal.’

“There’s a lot of pluses living in the digital world but frankly we gotta spend a little more time learning about the negative side," Ridge said.

While he said the US government is doing everything they can to protect Americans from potential cyber threats, he says the vulnerability of this wide-open system is still there. He believes that same vulnerability was seen in 2016 with the potential Russian hacking in the American election process.

“Frankly they’ve been doing it for a long time and we should not have been surprised,' Ridge added.

Ridge said he isn’t shocked the Russians tried to intervene in the US election. Now, he said it’s about understanding this potential cyber interference because he doesn’t believe the Russian threat will go away anytime soon.

"It’s a state of war. It’s a state of geopolitical engagement and it’s a permanent state and we better get used to it. I guess the real challenge is from my point of view, what are we doing to mitigate it because I don’t think we’ll ever be able to in the digit al world, ever be able to eliminate it." Ridge said.

While Congress continues their investigation of the potential Russian meddling, Ridge had this advice for the lawmakers and current administration on avoiding possible future threats both from Russia and potential cyber terrorists.

"Get more information down to state and locals. Press the offensive overseas as aggressive as we can. This global scourge of terrorism isn’t just our worry but the democracies at large in pockets elsewhere. It’s going to be a constant challenge for this administration and the next administration," he said.

Other than advice, Ridge is mostly leaving his political days in the past. He is remaining focused on his mission of keeping America safe. At 71 years old, there isn’t any sign of Ridge slowing down.

“Keep my head in the political and government game in a different way,” he said.

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