Former National Intelligence Director Urges New Legislative Framework on Cybersecurity
It is up to the legal community and those who have a vested interest in cyberspace to help change the bureaucracy surrounding how the nation is currently handling its defense strategy against cyber attacks, said John M. (Mike) McConnell, former national intelligence director and current vice chairman of Booz Allen Hamilton.
Speaking yesterday at an American Bar Association program organized by the Standing Committee on Law & National Security at the Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C., McConnell told attendees that, “The nation is at risk. We’ve been warned and it’s up to the people in this room to get the appropriate legislative framework in place or we will fail the nation as we did in Pearl Harbor and 9/11.”
McConnell explained to the audience of lawyers, business owners, government officials and cybersecurity experts that a lack of cooperation and information sharing contributed to Pearl Harbor and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
“Pearl Harbor would have never happened and we should have prevented 9/11. We had information to prevent it.”
McConnell said he is working to sound the alarm before it is too late.
“We are going to have a cyber event that is catastrophic,” McConnell warned, giving examples of how a cyber attack could be launched on our banking industry that could have worldwide implications.
“I’m personally acquainted with people who can break into such a system,” he added.
McConnell said the current U.S. legislative framework is not appropriate to handle cyber concerns.
In 2012, Congress failed to pass comprehensive cybersecurity legislation despite surging interest among policymakers in both the Democratic and Republication parties. Separate bills that would have created cybersecurity standards for critical infrastructure operators were defeated largely due to opposition from the private business sector, which viewed the proposed standards as excessively costly and burdensome.
Now, the Obama administration is reportedly mulling an executive order on cybersecurity that would serve as a stopgap measure in the absence of congressional action.
A new legislative framework should include privacy standards, information sharing and logical steps to help agencies to cross jurisdictional barriers, McConnell urged.