The Cybersecurity Bill: why government must steal our money to stop criminals stealing our data
In the old days it was the gangsters who used to say: “Be afraid; be very afraid.” And it was our government and law enforcement agencies that countered: “We’re here to protect you; we’ll keep you safe.”
Not any more. It is government that tells us to be afraid, and warns that it cannot protect us (unless we give it much more money, of course).
Yesterday the DHS discussed the Cybersecurity Bill with both government and private sector security experts.
Today we face a much greater risk than individual crime. A sophisticated attacker could cripple our entire financial system, take down our electric grid, or cause physical devastation equal to major conventional warfare. The fact is cyber attack is among the most serious threats we face as a nation today. And we must defend against it just as we defend ourselves against conventional attack.
Joe Lieberman, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman
Cyberspace is under increasing assault on all fronts. The cyber threat is real, and the consequences of a major successful national cyber attack could be devastating. As former Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell warned in February, “If we went to war today, in a cyber war, we would lose.” We are already under fire. Just this past March, the Senate’s Sergeant at Arms reported that the computer systems of Congress and Executive Branch agencies are now under cyber attack an average of 1.8 billion times a month. Cyber crime already costs our national economy an estimated $8 billion per year. So it’s clear that we must move forward now with an aggressive and comprehensive approach to protect cyberspace as a national asset. The vital legislation that we introduced last week would do just that. It would fortify the government’s efforts to safeguard America’s cyber networks and it would promote a true public/private partnership to work on national cyber security priorities.
Susan Collins, Ranking Member of the committee
For the past five years our country has witnessed several high-profile shots across the bow dealing with our lack of cyber security. For example, nation-states have stolen our most advanced weapon systems, criminals have siphoned billions of dollars from small businesses, and terrorists have used online fraud to fund the bombing of innocent civilians. Not only is this unacceptable, but America can’t afford to wait until another attack brings down Wall Street or our electric grid. I look forward to getting the needed reforms in our bill passed by Congress and on the President’s desk by the end of the year.
Tom Carper, Senator
Nobody in the security industry is under any illusion about the threat to cybersecurity. These comments are aimed not at the industry but at the general public. These are the people who will have to pay for cybersecurity. So the message is simple: “Be afraid, be very, very afraid; and give us your money so that we can protect you.”