June 24, 2015

Action Needed on Cybersecurity

  • Last year, there were 67,168 cyber incidents on federal agencies – an increase of 1,100 percent since 2006.

  • Despite the increasing threat, Senate Democrats blocked a vote to improve cybersecurity measures. The bill included significant privacy protections that are supported by the president and both parties.

Recent Cybersecurity Attacks on U.S. Government

Cyber Breach Chart

Cybersecurity threat to the U.S.

In May 2009, President Obama declared that the “cyber threat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation.” In the same speech, the president recognized that the United States is “not as prepared as we should be, as a government or country.” Since then, the president’s efforts has not kept pace with the increase of cyberattacks – either in size or sophistication.

That threat has been escalating. Last year alone, there were over 67,000 cyber incidents against federal agencies; over 27,000 of these incidents involved personally identifiable information. This is a 1,100 percent increase from 2006.

Incidents Reported - Chart

Most recently, FBI Director James Comey said that the personal information of as many as 18 million current, prospective, and former federal employees were impacted by a breach at the Office of Personnel Management. According to a June 22 report by CNN, U.S investigators “believe the Chinese government is behind the cyber intrusion” that also provided access to a database containing forms used for security clearances. 

Tools to combat the threat

In February 2013, the White House issued executive order 13636. The order created some voluntary incentives for the private sector to share information with the federal government and instructed the National Institute of Standards and Technology to create a framework to protect critical infrastructure.

However, the NIST framework is not a complete solution, and the executive order fails to address liability protection for information sharing. More needs to be done -- that is the aim of S. 754, the bipartisan Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015.

Senate Democrats block the bill  

In March, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted 14-1, to advance cybersecurity information sharing legislation. On June 11, Senate Democrats voted against debating the bill. President Obama supports cybersecurity information sharing legislation, and a version of the bill passed the House with the support of 105 Democrats. Continued efforts to block this bipartisan bill only make the country more vulnerable to attack.

Issue Tag: Technology