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Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LANGEVIN. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise today in strong support of the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act offered by my good friend and colleague, the cochair of the Cybersecurity Caucus, Mr. McCaul. The gentleman and I have been at this issue for several years now; and when we first began the effort back in '06 or '07, I think for the most part most people, when we talked about cybersecurity, it was, cyber what? Oh, how things have changed.

I think we certainly, collectively, between him and I and many others, have raised the awareness of this issue, its importance, and the challenges that we face in securing our Nation in cyberspace, and I deeply am grateful for his efforts.

It is impossible to overstate the importance of the cyberdomain to our national security, our infrastructure, and our economic competitiveness. Clearly, we all recognize how much we use the Internet every day in our daily lives, whether it's for commerce or communication, social networking, or national security issues. It really has become a part of our daily lives. But in securing the cyberdomain, we also face immense challenges.

Cyberthreats are clearly growing more numerous, sophisticated, and successful. We all know of someone who perhaps has had their bank accounts hacked and had money stolen or their identity stolen or their credit card number or Social Security number stolen because of a cyberattack on a company or government institution. We also have heard of numerous attacks, and we see them daily in the area of cyber-espionage, and the gentleman from Texas did a great job in outlining some of the specific challenges.

The F 35 is one case in particular that comes to mind. There are billions of dollars in R&D that is stolen on a daily or weekly basis by our adversaries; and, of course, we have heard and have documented numerous issues of cyberattacks. Thankfully, nothing major yet in this country. But as General Alexander, the Director of the NSA, has outlined, these days perhaps would come and we need to do all we can to avoid them.

Well-intentioned technological changes that create great efficiencies through automation and advanced management techniques, of course, can leave us even more vulnerable to cyber-exploitation.

Clearly, these efficiencies that have been brought through automation have helped us to be much more efficient; but as the test from Idaho National Labs, which showed how easy it would be to conduct a ``skater attack'' that penetrated systems that are government safety systems. Pumps and valves and generators could easily be penetrated and cause that generator to blow itself up. So these things can happen, and we need to do all we can to avoid them. Make sure that that day never comes.

Now, obviously, we have to tap into our creative and innovative spirit to address today's challenges and position ourselves to be agile in the face of tomorrow's threats.

I'm pleased that this bill helps us to make this need a reality by strengthening the coordination and cooperation among the various cyber-research and development efforts across the Federal Government.

The fruits of that research will be critical to our Nation's future defense and the cyberdomain.

Additionally, I'm pleased to highlight that this bill enhances programs that increase the size and skills of our Nation's cybersecurity workforce. Now, we have obviously a critical shortage of qualified cyber-experts, and we need to address that need. The director of the CIA's Clandestine Information Technology Office estimates that we only have about a thousand people that can operate in the country at world-class levels in cyberspace, and what he says is we need somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 people.

We all heard about the skills gap that we face in this country where, in particular, high-tech companies are having a real difficult time finding qualified workers to fill those jobs of the 21st century. We need to do better in closing our skills gap.

To this end, last year the National Defense Authorization Act commissioned a study that the Pentagon had to conduct to determine its cyberworkforce needs and give them a better situation awareness about who they have with those capabilities and what their needs will be both now and in the future. It was a successful study, and the Pentagon is putting that plan and that information into action to close that gap.

And at the high school level in Rhode Island and in several of the other States, we, working with the Sands Institute, created the cyberchallenge. We need to focus on our young people and get them focused on a potential career in cybersecurity, and that program has been incredibly successful.

So in closing that gap and developing a cyberworkforce, this legislation is an important step in that effort. So I want to thank the gentleman from Texas for his leadership on this issue, and I'm pleased to support this bipartisan legislation.


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