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Public Statements

Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LIPINSKI. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 2096, the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act. I'd like to first thank my colleague, Mr. McCaul, for his hard work on this critical piece of national cybersecurity policy.

As cofounder of the House Cybersecurity Caucus, Mr. McCaul has played a key role in this policy area that is becoming increasingly important to our Nation. Our work together on this legislation, which began last Congress, demonstrates that this bill is good, bipartisan public policy that should once again receive overwhelming support in this House.

In 2009, the President called for a comprehensive 60-day review of U.S. cyberspace policy. That call and the subsequent expert recommendations contained in the report led to a series of hearings on cybersecurity R&D and resulted in the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2010, which I sponsored and worked on with Mr. McCaul in the Science and Technology Committee in the last Congress. That bill passed this Chamber by a vote of 422 5. Unfortunately, it was not taken up by the Senate.

Since that time, cyberthreats have only increased. So last May, Mr. McCaul and I introduced this bill once again to address the pressing education, research, and development and standards and practices aspects of cybersecurity.

In America, every individual and every organization, including the Federal Government, is vulnerable to cybercrime. Our most sensitive data are stored on computers, and around the world there are countless individuals, groups, and nations relentlessly focused on exploiting gaps in our cybersecurity system.

The Federal Trade Commission estimates that identity theft costs consumers about $50 billion annually. The Department of Commerce was targeted this month in a cyberattack that required the Economic Development Administration to completely unplug from the network. And just yesterday, the Homeland Security Committee heard from witnesses about Iran's development of a cyberarmy.

Cybercrime evolves as quickly as technology itself. Thus, it will take a collective effort by the Federal Government, the private sector, our scientists and engineers, and every American to defeat it. And H.R. 2096 will help to do this.

The first step is education. This bill builds on existing partnerships, such as the NSF-sponsored Center for Systems Security and Information Assurance at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, Illinois. This community college has trained hundreds of teachers and college faculty in cybersecurity-related areas since 2003, individuals who are now teaching at colleges and technical training programs nationwide.

H.R. 2096 also provides scholarships for students pursuing degrees in cybersecurity in exchange for their service in the Federal IT workforce. This approach not only provides for the immediate workforce needs of the Federal Government, but it also builds a pipeline for private industry.

Now, in addition to a skilled IT workforce, our Nation also needs advances in basic R&D. Cyberthreats are constantly evolving, and cybersecurity must reflect the comprehensive efforts that build towards a more secure foundation in the short and long terms.

So this legislation requires relevant Federal agencies to work with the National Science and Technology Council to develop a national strategic plan for cybersecurity R&D that sets priorities based on risk assessments, focuses on transformational technology, and strengthens technology transfer programs. It will build on infrastructure that we need to get the best ideas out of the lab and into the marketplace. And because people are perhaps the weakest link in many IT systems, the research strategy will include the social sciences to help us better understand how humans interact with technology.

Promoting public awareness of good computer hygiene can go a long way to protecting our systems. The dissemination of simple concepts, such as installing antivirus software and not opening emails from unknown sources, can go a long way in reducing the threat of cybercrime.

The legislation also calls on the National Institute of Standards and Technology to be a leader in both domestic and international cybersecurity standards. As Mr. McCaul said, H.R. 2096 tasks NIST with developing a comprehensive international cybersecurity strategy that defines what working and IT technical standards we need, determines where they're being developed, and ensures the United States is represented.

Finally, in recognition of the Federal Government's increasing effort to utilize remote data centers, known as cloud computing, in this Congress, I worked to add language so that the bill now directs NIST to work with other agencies and with experts in the private sector to ensure the consistent and secure standards on cloud computing are put in place across the Federal Government. As cloud computing is used more and more by the Federal Government, we must make sure that this data is safe.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is a necessary and vitally important step toward securing our public, private, and personal IT systems. It is a good bipartisan bill, and I urge my colleagues to support it.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. McCAUL. Then I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. LIPINSKI. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Mr. Langevin, the other cochair of the Cybersecurity Caucus, for all of his work. I want to thank Ranking Member Johnson for her work, Chairman Hall, and especially Mr. McCaul for coming together on this bill.

We started this in the last Congress. Hopefully, we will get it finished in this Congress. We know that cyberthreats are everywhere--from cyberarmies that are threatening our Nation to cybercrime that threatens the financial security of all Americans. This bill addresses three key pieces of protecting our Nation: improving education, R&D, and the development of standards. All of these are key pieces we have to continue to develop as the threats develop, and this will help us to do that.

So I want to urge my colleagues to vote for this bill, and I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. Lipinski, you've been a real leader on cybersecurity. It has been an honor to serve with you on the Science and Technology Committee together. Let me, again, thank you for all of your great efforts.

At a time of intense partisanship, when there is so much acrimony on
both sides of the aisle, it is refreshing to see a moment when we can come together as Americans first, regardless of party affiliation, and do something that's right. Cybersecurity is in the best interest of the Nation. Defending the United States is a fundamental element under the Constitution. So, for me, personally, to see us come together like we have today is a very refreshing thing.

My father flew in a B 17 over Europe in 35 bombing missions. He was a bombardier. At that time, the state of warfare was very kinetic. They handed down a better country to this generation, but we're faced with a new threat. They're not bombs of his era, of his day, but, rather, digital bombs that can be dropped at any time and that have dropped on this government--on the Federal Government--and on our private sector. Bombs that have stolen trillions of dollars of intellectual property. Bombs that have committed espionage and stolen our military secrets. And bombs that could be conducted in a cyberwarfare attack.

I think the thing that keeps me up most at night is the idea of cyberwarfare, because we know what our offensive capability is. We know what we can do and conduct as a Nation against another nation. That technology in the wrong hands, in a country's like Iran, can cause great devastation against the interests of the United States, can bring down power grids, can bring down financial institutions. Every critical infrastructure tied to the Internet is vulnerable to this type of attack. So I believe that this legislation will protect this Nation from such attacks.

We all came up here to serve, not for ego, not for title but, at the end of the day, to make a difference, to make a fundamental difference in the lives of Americans. So I believe a moment like this is a great moment in which we can reflect back on later in our lives and think, you know, I made a difference. This bill protects Americans and future generations.

Let me thank all of those who have been involved in this critical legislation and, particularly, Mr. Lipinski for your patriotism to this country and for what you've done in getting this to move forward.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.


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