Letter to the Editor

Beefing up the nation’s cybersecurity system

As co-founder of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, I am encouraged by the legislative efforts of Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) to strengthen our nation’s “digital infrastructure” against cyber-
attacks, as outlined in their July 8 Washington Forum commentary, “Avoiding a digital Pearl Harbor.” Unfortunately, their efforts do not incorporate the strong diplomatic and military components that are necessary to engage our allies and the Pentagon in a comprehensive strategy.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned of threats posed by other nations and terrorist organizations. The senators’ plan would give primary responsibility for our nation’s cyber-strategy to the Department of Homeland Security. However, while Homeland Security is doing impressive work domestically, our international effort requires a whole-of-government approach.

The bipartisan Center for Strategic and International Studies’ cybersecurity commission, which I co-chaired, emphasized the need for a White House cybersecurity director, confirmed by the Senate, who would have budgetary and policy authority across government to require that agencies apply sufficient resources to protect themselves online. Legislation I introduced includes this director, to ensure that one person can coordinate our cybersecurity efforts domestically and internationally.

As we finally move toward a comprehensive cybersecurity policy, I hope we don’t lose sight of where some of the most dangerous potential threats are originating.

Jim Langevin, Washington

The writer, a Democrat, represents Rhode Island in the House of Representatives.

 
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