Cybersecurity: Assessing the Nation’s Ability to Address the Growing Cyber Threat

Hearing Date: July 7, 2011 12:00 am

Chairman Issa Hearing Preview Statement

Thursday’s hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, entitled “Cybersecurity: Assessing the Immediate Threat to the United States,” is the first in a series of hearings to examine the nature and extent of the current threat to America’s digital infrastructure. In recent months, the Committee has consulted with officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security.

The immediate reality of our vulnerability to cyber attacks is well known, both by our national security community and those who would exploit these vulnerabilities for militaristic, economic, and intelligence-gathering purposes. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) estimates that the number of cyber incidents affecting federal agencies shot up 39 percent in 2010. The Committee has received reports that the State and Defense Departments have lost more than six or seven terabytes of information to digital espionage – an amount equal to approximately one-sixth of the information contained in the entire Library of Congress.

Recently, the President noted that “cybersecurity is a challenge that we . . . are not prepared to counter.” The National Security Strategy, published in May 2010, reflects this critical threat to our national security, and Congress is prepared to work with the President and appropriate administration officials to strengthen our digital defenses. But this collaborative effort requires careful work by Congress to hold numerous hearings that assess the full spectrum of issues related to our cybersecurity. Moreover, nurturing transparent, and trusted private-public sector partnerships will be particularly important as we face this threat, given that 85 percent of the nation’s critical infrastructure is owned by the private sector.

Due to its unique oversight jurisdiction regarding interagency operations and federal information security, the Oversight Committee is ideally suited to examine the issue of cybersecurity from a holistic perspective. Working with administration officials to identify and eliminate existing gaps in our digital defenses, the Committee will facilitate an aggressive, effective and nimble coordination of our national cyber security strategy.

Witnesses and testimonies

Name Title Organization Panel Document
Mr. Greg Schaffer Acting Deputy Undersecretary, National Protection and Programs Directorate U.S. Department of Homeland Security Document
Mr. James A. Baker Associate Deputy Attorney General U.S. Department of Justice Document
Mr. Robert J. Butler Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Cyber Policy U.S. Department of Defense Document
Mr. Ari Schwartz Senior Internet Policy Advisor, National Institute of Standards and Technology U.S. Department of Commerce Document