Congress Fights Back Against Cyberattacks

Cyber ​​security has been a shaky, abstract concern for most Americans for years. No longer. The long gasoline lines and price spikes resulting from the attack on the Colonial Pipeline were a wake-up call at the moment cyber became real to millions. The ransomware attack disrupted one of the largest refined gasoline pipelines in the United States for six days and is part of a worrying trend. Our opponents undoubtedly notice the economic and social costs that are being inflicted; The number of people directly or indirectly affected by a malicious cyber attack will only increase.

This is one of the many reasons why we have been co-chairs of the for the past two years Cyberspace Solarium Commission, a congressional panel devoted to creating a 21st century “cyber doctrine” that will better protect America from these threats. Our goal is to be the “9/11 Commission” on cybersecurity before a catastrophic attack occurs. Unlike many efforts outside of Washington, our work has been productive. We’re already making and passing laws to ensure the U.S. government has the resources and tools to keep Americans safe.

This begins with the federal government improving its interactions with private industry – the businesses and corporations that make up the vast majority of our exposure to cyber threats. A priority is the identification, protection and defense of systemically important critical infrastructures. These are systems and assets such as the electrical grid, energy pipelines, and the financial industry that, if attacked and exploited by adversaries or criminals, can have catastrophic consequences for national security, the US economy, and public health and safety.

A second priority for the Commission is to increase common situational awareness of cyber intrusions. The private sector owns and operates most of the country’s critical infrastructure, so collaboration is essential to prepare. To this end, the commission recommended the establishment of a common collaborative environment, a common, cloud-based environment that would enable increased sharing of cyber threat intelligence between federal agencies and state and local governments and the private sector. This “nerve center” approach would lead to better detection and analysis of cyber threats affecting critical public or private networks.

Third, the government needs to increase its ability to respond to cyberattacks. As Vince Lombardi once said: It’s not about getting knocked down. It’s whether you get up again. We want to make sure that the critical infrastructure is robust enough to withstand a cyber attack and that capacity is quickly increased back to 100%. The commission recommended codifying a “cyber emergency,” a federal statement that would trigger additional resources through a “cyber response fund,” similar to what the US is currently doing to natural disasters.

Such a declaration is primarily intended to assist the private sector and government and local authorities beyond what is traditionally available for federal technical assistance and response to incidents. Federal leaders could invoke a cyber emergency in response to a major incident or in preparation for a major incident.

After all, Washington must protect Americans by bringing bad actors to justice and striking back against those who would harm the US, whether at home or abroad. For this reason, we recommend strengthening the military’s Cyber ​​Mission Force and improving the government’s tools to conduct international law enforcement, impose sanctions, and diplomatically involve other states. All of these actions will help ensure America has adequate military and non-military capabilities.

When the National Defense Approval Act of 2021 came into force last year, it contained 25 recommendations from the commission. If these provisions were a stand-alone piece of legislation, it would be the most comprehensive national cybersecurity law in the country’s history. Key provisions passed by the NDAA include the creation of the new national cyber director, the codification of risk management agencies for the sector to assess and secure critical infrastructures, and the development and maintenance of planning the continuity of the economy to continue operating ensure important economic functions in the event of a serious cyber disruption.

This is only part of our 80+ recommendations. As more of us have realized with the attack on the Colonial Pipeline, the cyber risks to our country are greater than ever. With the steps the Commission has put in place, Washington can provide Americans with the resources, tools and support to withstand these threats, uphold our freedoms, and continue the growth and prosperity of our country.

Mr. King, an independent, is a United States Senator from Maine. Mr. Gallagher, a Republican, represents the Eighth Congressional District of Wisconsin.

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