Working Together to Attack Cybersecurity


At NCTA earlier this week, we had the pleasure of hosting an important event about the challenging and growing issue of cybersecurity. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R, MI-8) and C. A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger (D, MD-2), the Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, discussed the ongoing, severe threat that American businesses face today in cyberspace. Also joining the event was Steve Largent, President and CEO of CTIA-The Wireless Association, and Walter McCormick, President and CEO of USTelecom.

Following the event, Reps. Rogers and Ruppersberger introduced new bipartisan legislation – the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011 – to help protect our nation’s critical cyber infrastructure. To demonstrate how critical this legislation is to protecting our country, the House Intelligence Committee has already marked up and passed this legislation and it now goes to the House floor. We urge Congress to act swiftly on this important measure.

Cyber threat is deeply frightening. In our world, there is a misguided but well-armed community that is diligently working to undermine the economic viability of the American public through corporate espionage. There are those who wish the American people harm through cyber-attack, threatening the very national security of our shores. And there are those engaged in criminal enterprise whose sole purpose is to steal and defraud good hardworking people.

This is a threat that will be with us forever, requiring bold and innovative solutions. Most importantly, it is a problem that requires an armada of constituencies to come together and work effectively. It is not an exaggeration to say when it comes to cybersecurity, that what you don’t know can hurt you.

One of the most valuable aspects of this new legislation is that it deals with the most critical problem when industries and government face a challenge like this: inadequate information flow. You can’t fix what you don’t know. You can’t work in cooperation and coordination with others when you’re not effectively able to share information.

I’ve had some experience with this challenge from having chaired the Federal Communications Commission and served as the National Security Commissioner for the United States. I faced the tests of the Y2K transition and helping to lead the country through the restoration of communications networks in the 9/11 crisis. From those experiences, I can say one of the most valuable aspects meant that we could put industry and government together in partnership to share information in a trusted and secure space, and begin to share best practices and adequately attack the problem. That is what the core of this bipartisan legislation does.

To provide for the common defense requires a trusted partnership, and to build that partnership I applaud this legislation’s focus on a non-prescriptive, non-overly regulatory approach and one that really invites people into the process both in self interest and shared comment interest. This is a critical first step in improving the security of our country, and the protection of our citizens.