Commentary – Cybersecurity is Critical


Recently the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission issued their annual report to Congress.  The report, which details all aspects of the relationship between the United States and China, contained disturbing but not unsuspected revelations that the Chinese government is behind the numerous computer hacking incidents involving many U.S. government and military sites.

Specifically, the report highlights an incident from April 2010, when for 18 minutes nearly 15 percent of the world’s Internet traffic was redirected through computer servers in China. Emails and Internet traffic to and from such vital government sites as the U.S. Senate, the Department of Commerce, NASA, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the Departments of the Army, Navy, and the Air Force as well as commercial sites such as Dell, Yahoo, Microsoft and IBM were hijacked and manipulated by China Telecom, a state-controlled Internet carrier.

This report follows recent testimony by the General Accounting Office (GAO) that the U.S. information technology infrastructure is vulnerable to attack. It has been estimated that the Pentagon’s computer system gets 360 million unauthorized scans or attacks a day.  Cyber security is without a doubt a homeland security threat and our government must take the appropriate steps to protect our vulnerable systems.  This week Defense Secretary Gates announced that the Department of Defense and National Security Agency will be working together more closely to address the growing cybersecurity threats faced by the federal government.

In addition, folks must realize just how important it is for individual Americans to take 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.  Weaknesses in your personal computer systems can affect the entire country.  In fact, 90 percent of the nation’s critical information infrastructure is operated by the private sector.

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.

– Congressman Bob Goodlatte