April 25, 2012, 03:41 pm
By Robert Holleyman, president and CEO, Business Software Alliance, Shawn Osborne, president and CEO, TechAmerica and Rey Ramsey, president and CEO, TechNet
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.
Critics are trying to portray the tech community as split or opposed to cybersecurity bills moving through Congress. They are wrong. The tech sector is 100 percent behind the effort to strengthen America’s cybersecurity defenses. It’s in the best interest of America and Americans.
Quite simply, cybersecurity is personal security.
Last year, personal information – names, addresses, Social Security numbers, credit card information, and the like – represented 95 percent of all the data compromised by cyber intrusion. Criminals used this data for identity theft, phishing campaigns, and other fraud. We have an opportunity to provide people with stronger shields against these crimes by building defenses that are fast, flexible, and adaptive to the threats we face each day.
This week’s National Space Symposium galvanized the aerospace community around a theme critical to our planet: space situational awareness, which – in short – is an understanding of the escalating danger of space junk and the risk this poses to the growing traffic in Earth’s orbit.
This space debris isn’t just the humorous – astronaut gloves, for instance – dropped inadvertently from shuttles past, floating harmlessly by the International Space Station. Rather, these bits of debris include defunct satellites, fragments left behind from earlier orbital collisions, or even lost tools from astronaut repair jobs that hurl through space at speeds up to 17,000 miles per hour. At this rate, even a small particle can pose dire consequence to lives and infrastructure should it collide with one of our critical satellites.
When Congress returns from recess, expectations of what it can accomplish this year will remain low. The 112th Congress has not been very productive thus far, and significant achievements will only grow more difficult as the next election nears. But, believe it or not, there are a few remaining glimmers of bipartisan hope in 2012. One of which is passing cybersecurity legislation.
Cyber efforts haven’t garnered much press so far for two simple reasons. First, unlike the budget and the Keystone XL pipeline, cyber proposals only recently became mired in entrenched political partisanship. And second, it’s an issue that isn’t well understood.
From the days of Edison and the Wright brothers to our own generation’s Burt Rutan and Steve Jobs, scientific innovation and technological advancement have always provided the basis for our country’s economic engine. These advancements have forever changed the way we live and the way we do business. They have been the sources of job creation, wealth and America’s place as a world leader.
Past generations understood that significant technological breakthroughs come at a price. Each dollar spent on research and development was an investment with risks and rewards, and often the list of successes paled in comparison to the failures that piled up along the way. Ours is a nation that has always believed the rewards outweighed the risks; that there is true value in investing in science and technology research. We cheered the innovative. We championed the entrepreneurial. We rooted for those who dared dream making possible the impossible. And we’ve reaped the economic and societal benefits many times over.
In 2010, drunk driving represented 31 percent of all highway deaths, equating to 10,228 lives lost. Another 350,000 people were injured in drunk-driving crashes. The cost of this epidemic to our country was $132 billion. However, to me, these aren’t just numbers. My 15-year-old daughter, Alisa, was killed in a drunk driving crash. And while drunk-driving deaths have been reduced by more than half in the 32 years since Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was founded, we still have much work to do.
A cutting edge research project called DADSS (Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety) is currently underway and could one day eliminate drunk driving in our country. The project seeks to develop an in-vehicle technology to seamlessly and passively detect a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The program to develop this lifesaving technology is a joint effort between the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety, comprised of the world’s leading auto manufacturers, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.