Fitzpatrick Statement on Massive European Cyberattack

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Subcommittee member continues push for cybersecurity agency at DHS

June 27, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08), a member of the Homeland Security Committee, released the following statement Tuesday regarding reports of a “new and highly virulent outbreak of malicious data-scrambling software… causing mass disruption across Europe, hitting Ukraine especially hard:”

“As a member of the Homeland Security Committee’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Subcommittee I’m working to defend America’s domestic networks and establish a comprehensive assessment of the current cyber threat environment to help guide the Department of Homeland Security's governmental and civilian cyber defense mission.

Whether it is state actors from North Korea to Russia, hacktivists or cyber-criminals targeting consumer and personal data, cyber-security 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.

So far, our work has provided an important first step to ensure the 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 address this 21st century challenge, I continue to believe we must establish a cyber-security agency at DHS so it can most effectively carry out civilian cyber defense statutory authorities.”

In 2016, the United States 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. 

At a Homeland Security hearing in March, Gen. Keith B. Alexander (Ret.), President and Chief Executive Officer of IronNet Cybersecurity, testified about the threat, saying:

“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.

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.”