Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cybersecurity is critical to our national security

By Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-6th)

The news reports are startling – multiple congressional offices announcing that their computer systems have been compromised by hackers, including Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the Pentagon reporting that their computer system is “scanned or attacked by outsiders more than 300 million times a day”, and the General Accounting Office (GAO) testifying that the U.S. information technology infrastructure is vulnerable to attack.

The GAO has further stated in a recent report that, “cyber attacks continue to pose a potentially devastating threat to the systems and operations of the federal government and the ever-increasing dependence of federal agencies on computerized systems to carry out essential, everyday operations can make them vulnerable to an array of cyber-based risks. Thus it is increasingly important for the federal government to have effective information security controls in place to safeguard its systems and the information they contain.”

In direct response to this GAO report and extensive hearings by the House Science and Technology Committee, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed bipartisan legislation which aims to enhance cybersecurity. Specifically, the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act seeks to improve computer security in the public and private sectors through coordination of federal cybersecurity research and development activities, strengthening of the cybersecurity workforce, and coordination of U.S. representation in international cybersecurity technical standards development.

Cyber security is without a doubt a homeland security threat and the government is taking steps to protect our vulnerable systems, but folks must realize just how important it is for individual Americans to take their cybersecurity seriously, not just as a matter of personal safety, but as a matter of our country's security as well. Those who take it upon themselves to implement relatively simple security measures are not only protecting themselves and their families, but are in effect contributing to our national efforts to secure critical infrastructures like telecommunications, energy, manufacturing, water, health care, transportation, and emergency and financial services.

While technology has brought tremendous improvement to our quality of life, these advances have also brought significant vulnerability. These recent attacks on government networks have served to increase awareness that cybersecurity is not just about protecting computers, but also has implications for our national security and economic well-being. Just as the federal government heavily relies upon computers to carry out their business, so do our local hospitals, firefighters and police, just to name a few.

Computers are vital to the safety of the American people and as Co-Chair of the Congressional Internet Caucus and Chairman of the House Republican High Tech Working Group I will continue working with the Administration and the leadership in Congress to see that our nation’s information networks are protected from future cyber attacks.

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