January 21, 2010

MARYLAND IS POISED TO LEAD OUR NATION'S CYBERSECURITY DEFENSE AGAINST TERRORISTS

America is under constant attack from cyber criminals, terrorists and unfriendly nations that seek to do us harm.   But cybersecurity involves more than identity theft and stealing money, it is about our national defense and homeland security.

 

 As Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee, I am committed to strengthening our nation's defenses against an attack via the Internet - an attack that could wreak havoc with our economy, bring our transportation system to a halt, alter the delivery of our energy resources, and much more.

 

Shortly after taking office, President Obama ordered a comprehensive review of U.S. policies and structures for cybersecurity.   This review engaged a broad-range of experts from government, private sector, academia and the international community.

 

The review was released in May and it contained some sobering conclusions: namely that the federal government currently is unable to effectively address this growing problem. The report highlighted the lack of a central point of responsibility for cybersecurity across a wide array of departments and agencies -- none with the sufficient authority to direct actions that will improve our cybersecurity.

 

In November, I chaired a hearing of the Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee that examined both governmental and private-sector efforts to prevent a terrorist cyber attack, as well as the need for a central coordinator.   The hearing also examined the need to balance growing cybersecurity measures with the critical need to protect privacy rights and civil liberties.  

 

The White House has responded positively.   In December, President Obama appointed Howard Schmidt as the White House Cybersecurity Coordinator, charged with developing a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy, an important step in improving our cybersecurity defenses.

 

Maryland is at the center of our nation's cybersecurity efforts.   More than 50 key security and intelligence federal facilities and 12 major military installations are or will soon be located in our state, including the National Security Agency, the Army's Communication and Electronics Command   (slated to move to Aberdeen Proving Ground), and the Defense Information Systems Agency (moving to Maryland in 2011).    Maryland also is a leader in research, development and education, from our world-class academic centers, including Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland, to our highly educated workforce.

 

We cannot be satisfied where we are today. I am committed to improving our nation's cybersecurity defenses, and I fully support the recently unveiled CyberMaryland initiative, a coordinated strategy that will reinforce Maryland's leadership role in cybersecurity.   Coordinated efforts like this will help us stay ahead of the criminals and terrorists who would use technology to compromise our national security.