Each day, seemingly, there’s another attention-grabbing news story about a threat to the U.S. national security by a rogue group or foreign government attempting to hack their way into state secrets. Without question, the dangers from these groups are real, and have been increasing. But the headlines fail to account for the group most threatened by cyber threats and intrusions, namely you and me.
The facts are stark and powerful. In the past year, an estimated 556 million adults experienced cybercrime, more than the entire population of the United States. Every second, 18 adults become a victim of cybercrime, resulting in more than 1.5 million cybercrime victims each day. Personal information -- things like names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and credit card info -- represents the overwhelming amount of all data compromised by cyber intrusion. Criminals used that data for identity theft, phishing campaigns, and other fraud.
Yet, the question remains as to how best enhance U.S cybersecurity.
The House of Representatives this week will take up a series of bills that, combined, would make significant progress in strengthening America’s cybersecurity. The four bills are:
- HR 624, the bipartisan Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which would take significant steps to strengthen America’s cybersecurity defenses while protecting personal privacy;
- HR 756, the bipartisan Cybersecurity Enhancement Act, which would boost public-private cyber security research, awareness, and education;
- HR 967, the bipartisan Advancing America's Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Act, which would enhance cybersecurity research partnerships among the federal science agencies, universities, the tech sector, and other involved industries; and,
- HR 1163, the bipartisan Federal Information Security Amendments Act, which would create an updated cybersecurity framework for systems that support the federal government.
Together, these four bills would provide U.S. cybersecurity efforts -- both within the government and across business sectors -- with the tools and resources to better protect American citizens and critical infrastructure.
Much of the attention is focused on the first bill, CISPA. At its heart, this legislation would complement and improve existing efforts with a more effective cyber threat information sharing initiative. Many times, industry and government cannot avoid, stop, or minimize cyber intrusions or damage because we aren’t aware of them. CISPA would break down barriers to faster information sharing and allow all sides to share the most vital information necessary to protect individuals and the country.
An effective cyber threat information sharing system would allow exchange of timely and relevant information that security experts can use to anticipate and identify threats quickly, move to stop or remedy them, and take immediate steps to shield people’s personal information. With clear restrictions on use, companies and government would share information to help identify, counter, and stop cyber intrusions.
CISPA would provide the keys to this critical development. Why critical? Because the more actionable and real-time information everyone has on threats and incidents, the better chance we have in keeping pace with cyber adversaries rather than simply reacting after the fact.
As the House of Representatives debates and votes on these bills, we hope that there is strong bipartisan support for each one. Each provides important support for America’s national security and personal security. Together, they would advance innovative cyber protections that will keep us all a step ahead of our adversaries.