Mark Udall introduced a series of amendments today aimed at better preparing the United States for cyberattacks, including permanently establishing cyber-defense training programs at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. The amendments were introduced as part of the U.S. Senate's consideration of the Cybersecurity Act of 2012.
"Cyberattacks increasingly threaten the United States and our critical infrastructure," Udall said. "If we don't strengthen our defenses, cyberattacks could cripple our electrical grid, water supplies and other networks - including those used by our armed services. By leveraging the immense talent already at the U.S. Air Force Academy, we will keep our nation on the cutting edge of cyber defense and help protect our nation's critical infrastructure."
Udall's first amendment would create permanent cyber-defense training programs at the U.S. Air Force Academy. The amendment would require the Air Force to permanently fund the positions of the Director of the Center for Cyberspace Research and the Director of the Cyber Training Range. This will ensure that the academy staffs the programs with highly qualified and experienced cyber experts and helps maintain the institution as a center for cyber training, research and leadership development.
Udall's first amendment builds on his previous work to make the United States safer from the growing threat of cyberattacks. Earlier this year, Udall amended the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 to study whether government efforts to recruit and train cybersecurity experts are meeting national security needs. During a recent Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, Udall questioned officials from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation and the Government Accountability Office about whether the United States' critical infrastructure is safe from cyberattacks and whether the federal government has the resources it needs for cyber defense.
Udall also introduced amendments to the Cybersecurity Act to require that:
The Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security study if the country should create a stockpile of Extra High Voltage transformers. The United States currently does not manufacture these devices, used to provide power to consumers, and could be vulnerable if a large number of the EHV transformers were damaged or destroyed by a cyberattack.
The administration issue a report to Congress describing current federal programs for recruiting individuals with outstanding computer skills for government service, any manning or specialty shortfalls in cybersecurity career fields, and any non-traditional recruiting practices used by the federal government to recruit individuals for cyber-related career fields.
Colorado's military and defense communities play a prominent role in defending the United States against cyberattacks. The Air Force Space Command, located at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, is responsible for protecting American space-based assets from network intrusions. The U.S. Northern Command, also located at Peterson Air Force Base, recently established a Joint Cyber Center to help provide on-demand cyber consequence response to civil authorities. Multiple defense and technology industry companies based in Colorado also contribute hardware, software and expertise to the effort to keep our networks and infrastructure secure. The federal labs also conduct critical research into cybersecurity, most notably the National Institute of Standards and Technology located in Boulder, which plays a key role in helping to establish cybersecurity standards.