Skip To Main

Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke Hosts Cybersecurity Roundtable

Yesterday, Representative Yvette D. Clarke, Chair of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity and Science and Technology, hosted a cybersecurity roundtable discussion focusing on critical infrastructure protection. She made the following remarks:

“Good afternoon everyone and welcome to our Cybersecurity Roundtable Discussion on Critical Infrastructure Protection. We all know that the nation’s physical and economic security relies on the safe and efficient production and distribution of critical goods and services, including safe drinking water, financial services, electricity, and healthcare. And that the array of physical assets, processes, information, and people that facilitate this production and distribution are commonly referred to as the nation’s critical infrastructure. As innovation spurs increased access and demand for the internet and information technologies, our critical infrastructure has become increasingly wired, and therefore increasingly vulnerable.

“The House Committee on Homeland Security has been at the forefront of this effort for several years. I want to thank my subcommittee Ranking Member Dan Lungren for joining us today as well as Rep. Loretta Sanchez, Vice Chair of the Full Committee. Rep. Sanchez was recently named Chair of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities, which gives her jurisdiction of DoD related cybersecurity matters. Cyber Caucus co-chair Jim Langevin will also join us later in the program. I’ve just been notified that Senator Kirsten Gillibrand will not be able to make it over due to important committee meetings, but I know that she is very concerned with this issue, particularly with regard to global cooperation.

“While in this post 9/11 era, the U.S. government at all levels has focused greater attention on critical infrastructure vulnerability and finding solutions to this challenge, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the lead agency in coordinating our national effort. We are very fortunate to have DHS “Assistant Secretary Greg Schaffer here to participate in today’s dialogue. I also want to thank with Treasury Director William Henley, US CERT Director Richard Pethia, and NDU Professor Luis Kun for joining us today.

“Everyone here today can agree with President Obama who has said that cybersecurity is ‘one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation.’

“We are all familiar with the threat, but now we must work together—across the seemingly countless congressional committees of jurisdiction, in partnership with the White House, federal agencies and industry to identify and implement tangible near and long term solutions. Securing cyberspace will take a coordinated effort among the federal government, the state, local, and tribal governments, and the private sector, as well as our international partners. Information sharing and coordination is the key to successfully tackling this problem.

“Lastly I must add that last night was the series finale of my favorite cyber guilty pleasure, ‘24’, and the show has certainly done a great deal to get our minds going about the cyber threats out there. Andrew Nagorski of the EastWest Institute has noted that, ‘24’s core message is about how to fight terror, but the corollary message is about our society’s total dependence on cyberspace for everything we do. The show focuses on the cyber tools that character Chloe O’Brien uses to help Jack Bauer defend our nation against the forces of darkness out there, but it also highlights the cyber threat to critical infrastructure.

“Some of us may want to simply dismiss this as ‘Hollywood,’ but as noted in an article in this week’s Federal Computer Week, titled Cyberthreats: Sometimes Hollywood gets it right, a panel of security experts who assembled during last week’s Internet Security Alliance anniversary to analyze cyber attacks in popular movies from the past 30 years rated a surprising number of the fictional critical infrastructure cyber threat scenarios ‘do-able.’

“It is clear that our response to these significant challenges will have considerable economic and security implications and the entire international community is watching our response. We must address these challenges and strengthen our cybersecurity practices without destroying the creative engines that drive our economy and spur innovation. While there may not be a silver bullet, we must do what we can to protect our critical cyber infrastructure. As Nagorski notes, if we don’t work together to secure cyberspace, we are all in serious trouble. Even Jack Bauer won’t be able to save us.

“I look forward to the good discussion this afternoon as we all take this opportunity to learn from one another.”