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Urgent need for cybersecurity legislation

A few years ago, cyberattacks against the government and corporations were on the margins of news stories. However, now a day doesn’t go by that we don’t hear about a data breach or cyberattack. Nation states, or their proxies, and cyber criminals steal our login credentials, payment card data, trade secrets, and much more on a daily basis. Cyber criminals have been hacking away with impunity—and that has got to stop. 

According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans are more concerned about having their computers or smartphones hacked or credit card information stolen than they are about other crimes. The scary part is that recent high-profile cyberattacks represent just a fraction of the criminal activity happening in the shadows of cyberspace. Every day, cyber criminals are launching attacks that are growing in sophistication and frequency.  

{mosads}Being the victim of a cyberattack is not cheap. The average cost of a breach for a company is $3.8 million and is increasing. Cybercrime costs the global economy about $445 billion in a typical year. Aside from the monetary costs, businesses may suffer a loss of consumer confidence and reputation.

The business community and most lawmakers agree that federal legislation is required to create a powerful sea change in the current information-sharing practices between the public and private sectors. The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (CISA) is a step in the right direction, and we need the Senate to bring it to the floor for consideration now.

Congressional action cannot come soon enough. It’s an unacceptable privacy risk that hackers are hard at work stealing the Social Security numbers, bank account information and credit card information of hundreds of millions of Americans. It’s an unacceptable privacy risk that nation states, and their proxies, steal the intellectual property and trade secrets of our small businesses every day. All of this results in an unacceptable privacy risk to our national and economic security. However, what is really unacceptable is that a minority of “so-called” privacy advocates threaten to stall action on this important cybersecurity bill.

CISA has earned the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its Protecting America’s Cyber Networks Coalition, a coalition of 51 businesses and associations. White House support of CISA has put wind behind the sails of a smart and workable bill that reflects compromises among many stakeholders.

The Senate needs to send the president a good cyber bill this year. The business community should not be left alone to counter extraordinarily fast-paced threats from foreign powers and their cyber surrogates. We urge the Senate to take up and pass CISA now.

Beauchesne is the senior vice president for National Security and Emergency Preparedness at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.


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