McAuliffe urges lawmakers to 'get their act together' on cybersecurity

McAuliffe urges lawmakers to 'get their act together' on cybersecurity
© Greg Nash

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) on Wednesday accused members of Congress of failing to properly address cybersecurity issues or fund related efforts.

“I have been very public in my displeasure with the Congress,” McAuliffe said. “We don’t even have a committee [in] Congress today on cybersecurity. It is spread through many different committees — nobody will give up jurisdiction to come together.”

A number of committees in both chambers deal with cyber, including those with oversight of the Homeland Security and Defense departments.

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McAuliffe, who has prioritized cybersecurity as chairman of the National Governors Association (NGA), said that he has visited lawmakers in both chambers to press them “to get their act together on cybersecurity" and "put all the partisanship aside."

The Virginia governor made the comments at a cybersecurity conference hosted by the website FedScoop and software company VMware in Alexandria, Va.

During the event he also complained of a lack of funding for cybersecurity, again taking aim at lawmakers for repeatedly passing short-term continuing resolutions to fund the government.

He said more money is needed for state-level initiatives to boost innovation and spur job creation in the cybersecurity field.

“We need more adequate funding to do what we need to do. We can’t do that individually in the states,” McAuliffe said.

McAuliffe in his role leading the NGA is working to get all 50 states to abide by basic minimum protocols on cybersecurity to protect the data of their businesses and citizens. 

He said that states would be assessed on their adherence to these protocols at a meeting of the association this summer. Those that do not adhere to these protocols that are successfully attacked in cyberspace will pay a “political price,” he warned. 

“If you as a governor get hacked and your state businesses or your citizens get information taken from them and you have not done the basic protocols, you will pay a very bad political price. In addition, it will hurt your state,” McAuliffe said.

The Virginia governor described cyber intrusions as “the biggest threat that faces the United States of America.”