Two years after the 9/11 attacks, the Northeast and parts of the Midwest experienced one of the largest, most widespread blackouts in U.S. history.
Just over two months ago, the House Homeland Security subcommittee that oversees cybersecurity unanimously approved the Precise Act, legislation requiring the relatively few companies that run our nation’s critical infrastructure, such as the electric grid and water systems, to ensure their computer networks meet minimum safety standards. Just as the airline industry must follow Federal Aviation Administration safety standards, the companies that own and operate the infrastructure on which the public most relies should be accountable for protecting their consumers when confronted with a significant risk.
The House this week will consider the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act.
We have been fortunate that up until this point, cyberattacks in our country have not caused a cataclysmic event that has brought physical harm to Americans. But that is not for a lack of effort on the part of those who mean to destroy our way of life — every day nations and “hacktivist” groups penetrate our public and private computer networks.
This past fall, U.S. intelligence officials unveiled a report to Congress on economic espionage that shocked many in business and government circles.
This week is “Cybersecurity Week” in the House of Representatives, and members will vote on a handful of bills intended to protect cybersecurity.
The House of Representatives is set to vote on landmark cybersecurity legislation to protect the nation’s computer systems. This may be Congress’s best hope for a significant, bipartisan achievement in 2012 — and it is certainly necessary if we are to achieve the true potential of the internet and an empowered digital society.
Our associations and the companies we represent have been at the forefront of critical policy discussions that have fostered the internet’s growth into the world’s most important economic and social platform. We are proud to be part of a U.S. technology industry that is leading the world in innovation and advancing our nation’s economic competitiveness.
As such, we are particularly concerned with doing everything we can to secure the Internet against a rising tide of cybersecurity threats that pose serious harm to citizens, businesses, and government institutions. FBI Director, Robert Mueller, recently warned that very soon the “cyber threat will pose the number-one threat to our country.”
Earlier this month, Army Maj. General Stephen Smith, director of the Cyberspace Task Force for the service, discussed his plans for secure remote access.
According to Maj. General Smith, the Army and the Defense Information Systems Agency will issue a broad agency announcement by the early summer detailing a new approach to securing mobile devices.
In plain English, the proposed solution would provide remote workers with an easy-to-use solution to access their network data and information from wherever and whenever they wanted, but would prohibit then from extracting or downloading that information externally (onto external devices). Maj. General Smith clearly understands the importance of and need for both identity management and data entitlement, which are not only serious concerns with potentially catastrophic consequences for the government, but also for private business.
In my opinion, the largest threat we as a nation face is from cyberattack and loss of critical data.
Earlier this year, strong public opposition led by several prominent websites forced Congressional leaders to cancel votes on two bills known in Washington as “SOPA” and “PIPA.” Both of these bills threatened search engines and websites with possible shutdowns if the Justice Department deemed them insufficiently cooperative with our phony “war on terror,” or if they were merely accused of copyright infringement. Fortunately the American public flooded Capitol Hill with phone calls and Congressional leaders dropped both bills.
But we should never underestimate the federal government’s insatiable desire to control the internet. Statists of all parties, persuasions, and nationalities hate the free, unbridled flow of information, ideas, and goods via the internet. They resent the notion that ordinary people can communicate and trade across the world without government filters or approvals. So they continually seek to impose controls, always under the guise of fighting terrorism or protecting “intellectual property” rights.
We live in a cyber world with a vast array of technologies used by industries, organizations, governments, and people. This reliance on technology saves time and provides cost efficiencies to consumers and businesses, including businesses critical to our national infrastructure. However, the ever-growing scope, sophistication, and organization of cyber attacks demands that government, businesses and American consumers take an active role in cybersecurity.
The connectivity provided by the Internet has benefits and drawbacks, and both demand understanding and action from each stakeholder to ensure the overall system is protected. Without holistic implementation of security principles, bad actors and criminals will simply exploit the weakest link.
Because of this, Congress, in its debate over cybersecurity legislation, should take a comprehensive approach, to determine appropriate security standards for all businesses, and as a result, provide more effective protection to consumers.