Cyber: a New Domain of Warfare

Jul 15, 2015

Recent news about the cyberattack targeting federal employees has gone from bad to worse. Over 21 million federal employee personnel records were affected after the Office of Personnel Management was the target of an extended cyberattack. Personal data, such as social security numbers, financial information, and security clearance documents, was stolen, putting the personal and financial security of our citizens at risk. This attack was hardly unique, and increased reports of cyberattacks against our military websites, government data, and businesses are a common occurrence.

As the new Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, I see each day how cyber is a new domain of warfare. Most businesses reported a successful or attempted cyberattack in the last year—and 60 percent of those facing an attack were small or medium sized businesses. These cyberattacks are a sober reminder to Congress that all government agencies need to work together to better protect public and private networks. Cyber vulnerabilities are an especially concerning new form of attack, because they allow our enemies to score a victory in a new capacity that our country is becoming more dependent upon every day. It is for these reasons that I am working to implement meaningful solutions to improve our nation’s cybersecurity.

Recently, I introduced H.R. 2708, the Cyberattack Standards Study Act, which directs our national security agencies to work together, and develop a clear standard for measuring a cyber incident. Having a clear measurement lets our nation determine the appropriate response when faced with a cyberattack. My bill was included as an amendment in the bipartisan Intelligence Authorization Act, H.R. 2596, which recently passed the House of Representatives. This amendment is a critical first step in building a more comprehensive cyber defense system, and I look forward to this legislation being passed by the Senate.

After a cyberattack, we are left with questions about everything from the perpetrators and the information taken, to the size and scope of the attack. If we gather this information through various government agencies, each use different measures to assess and quantify the damage of an attack. We waste valuable time and resources trying to piece together a response, and by having government agencies and military on the same page, we can have an effective and rapid response when facing new and existing cyber threats.

We need to get our front-line cyber forces trained, readied, and equipped as swiftly as possible to effectively defend American families, but we must be sure they are prepared to respond to these new and diverse threats. Recently, I toured the U.S. Army Cyber Command at Fort Gordon in Augusta, where I was grateful to discuss comprehensive efforts to improve American cybersecurity. It is my hope that Congress will continue to pass meaningful cyber legislation to secure our networks.

Through my work in Congress, I will continue to advance bipartisan legislation that bolsters our national security by developing new protections for our civilian and military networks to defend American families. 

Published in: the North Augusta Star, the New Irmo News, and the Lexington County Chronicle