Fitzpatrick, Committee Take Aim at Cyber Threats

Homeland Security Committee hearing focuses on ‘borderless battle’

March 22, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) joined the Homeland Security Committee Wednesday in a hearing on the evolving cyber threat landscape and the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) civilian cyber defense mission. Since joining the committee, Fitzpatrick has taken an active role in working to defend America’s domestic networks and establish a comprehensive assessment of the current cyber threat environment to help guide the Committee’s legislative and oversight efforts.

“Whether it is state actors from North Korea to Russia, hacktivists or cyber-criminals targeting consumer and personal data, Cybersecurity is a complex and serious national and economic security issue that our country will continue face over the decades to come. It is the responsibility of DHS to work with public and private sector stakeholders to secure networks to protect critical U.S. infrastructure – 85-percent of which is owned and operated outside of the government,” said Fitzpatrick following the hearing.  “Today’s hearing is an important first step to ensure this committee has the information it needs to address this challenge on every front, and is prepared to equip DHS with the tools it needs to carry out this mission. To that end, it is my belief that we must establish a cybersecurity agency at DHS so it can most effectively carry out civilian cyber defense statutory authorities.”

In 2016, the nation saw a growing variety of digital threats against the private sector and Federal networks. American election systems were targeted, 500 million Yahoo user accounts were hacked, hospital IT systems were frozen with ransomware, and the IRS was breached.  Additionally, there have been cyber-attacks against the financial sector, dams and power grids. 

“It is worth noting that our enemies today need not attack our government to have a substantive strategic effect on our nation.  Attacking civilian or economic infrastructure may be a more effective approach in the modern era, particularly for asymmetric actors like terrorist groups. Similarly, an increasing number and range of non-state groups use cyber-enabled methods to advance their own agendas. Major criminal gangs, organized crime groups, and terrorist organizations are growing their cyber capabilities to go beyond mere communication, recruitment, and incitement,” noted Gen. Keith B. Alexander (Ret. USA), President and Chief Executive Officer of IronNet Cybersecurity.

“It is critical that as a nation, we fundamentally rethink how the government and the private sector relate to one another in cyberspace.  We need to draw clear lines and make explicit certain responsibilities, capabilities, and authorities… We need to recognize that neither the government nor the private sector can capably protect the systems and networks they need to without extensive and close cooperation.” 

Also testifying at the hearing were; Mr. Michael Daniel, President of Cyber Threat Alliance; Mr. Frank J. Cilluffo, Director of the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University; and Mr. Bruce W. McConnell, Global Vice President of the
EastWest Institute.

Watch the complete hearing HERE