Today, the nation’s computer networks, critical infrastructure and key resources, as well as everyone who uses the Internet, are vulnerable to terrorists, spies and cyber criminals who can steal our identities, corrupt our financial networks, and compromise and disrupt governmental operations. Computers and other devices that connect to the Internet are prime targets of cyber terrorists and cyber criminals. As a result, cybersecurity has become an urgent homeland security issue.
Last year, as chairman of the Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee, I chaired a hearing entitled “Cybersecurity: Preventing Terrorist Attacks and Protecting Privacy in Cyberspace.” It outlined the serious cybersecurity challenges we face not only in terms of national security, but also in terms of cybercrime.
For example, in 2008, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) uncovered a transnational crime organization that used sophisticated hacking techniques to withdraw more than $9 million in less than 12 hours from 2,100 ATM machines in 280 cities around the world, including the United States, Russia, Italy, Japan and Canada. The FBI also shut down another online criminal enterprise in which more than 2,500 people were involved in buying and selling stolen financial information, including credit card data and login credentials.
Cybercrime is serious business. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, known as IC3, is the leading cybercrime incident reporting center and it received more than 275,000 complaints in 2008 alone. Cybercrime is increasingly being adopted as a profitable component of violent, organized, sophisticated and well-financed crime rings.
We need to act to prevent Internet catastrophes before they occur. That is why I have introduced the Internet and Cybersecurity Safety Standards Act, which would require the government and the private sector to work together to develop minimum Internet and cybersecurity safety standards for users of computers and other devices that connect to the Internet. Just as automobiles cannot be sold or operated on public highways without meeting certain minimum safety standards, we also need minimum Internet and cybersecurity safety standards for our information superhighway.
We live in a digital world, and it’s critical that we take the steps that are necessary to promote and protect all forms of Internet communications that are a large part of our daily lives. In an era of ever growing and new cybersecurity challenges, we need to get everyone to work together to secure our nation’s digital future.