Dem senator proposes creating cybersecurity ‘militia’

Dem senator proposes creating cybersecurity ‘militia’
© Greg Nash

At a Monday speech, Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseLWCF modernization: Restoring the promise Restaurant owner defends calamari as 'bipartisan' after Democratic convention appearance Warren calls on McConnell to bring Senate back to address Postal Service MORE (D-R.I.) proposed a creating a new “militia” charged with performing network security tests across the entire government.  

Currently, every government agency is in charge of its own security. Whitehouse told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington there should be a centralized cybersecurity inspector.

“A single, specialized office dedicated to federal cybersecurity, with authority to do white-hat tests of agency security, could attract world-class talent and would spur federal agencies to keep pace in the cyber arms race against hackers,” he said.


The new corps would not unseat the people currently in charge of various departments’ cybersecurity. Instead, Whitehouse suggests it would provide third-party oversight and perhaps even encourage agencies to more take responsibility for their own protection rather than be embarrassed by the militia’s oversight.    

Whitehouse envisioned an ever-ready civilian core to perform these tests, similar to — or even under the auspices of — the National Guard. But he also acknowledged that a military structure might not be appropriate to encourage the top minds in security to join. 

“In this theater of operations, it really doesn't matter how someone's hair is cut, or whether they can't or just won't do pushups for you, or if they just like to sleep in until noon,” he said.