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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Protecting Americans from Cyber Attack

Monday, September 10, 2012

With Congress back in session and during a month when we pause to remember the tragic terrorist attacks of 9/11, it is time to get rid of partisan gridlock, and work together to pass a number of important bills including one that is vital to America's national security.

Security experts and military officials alike have continued to warn Congress of the urgent need to pass legislation that addresses vulnerabilities in our country's cyber security networks. These cyber networks control a multitude of our country's critical infrastructure assets including water treatment systems, transportation networks, electricity grids, refineries, power plants, financial services and much more.

General Keith Alexander, Director of the National Security Agency and Commander of US Cyber Command, which is a sub-unified command under STRATCOM, has expressed his strong support and the urgent need to pass a comprehensive cyber security bill.

U.S. Vulnerable to Attacks on Computer Systems

General Alexander says on a scale of 1 to 10, U.S. preparedness guarding against a cyber attack on critical infrastructure is around a 3.

We already know that our nation is vulnerable to attacks by cyber hackers, with attacks in the U.S. increasing 17-fold from 2009 to 2011. This is a bill that is not only critical to our country's national security, but also our economic security, with businesses already losing billions of dollars annually to cyber-criminals and attacks.

This is a bill that was constructed in a bipartisan fashion and I had hoped that in the spirit of cooperation the Senate would overcome procedural votes so that we could consider relevant amendments and have completed work on the cyber security bill before the August recess. Instead, despite all of the concerns, some of my colleagues demanded votes on irrelevant and partisan amendments and ultimately derailed the Senate from taking the bill up for consideration.

Political Games Stopped the Bill

Unfortunately, due to these political games, the cyber security bill remains stalled and a way to move forward with the legislation remains unclear.

With the 112th Congress winding down ahead of the Nov. 6 congressional and presidential elections, and tied in knots over partisan issues, cyber security may fall to the side leaving our country vulnerable to a crippling attack on vital cyber networks.

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