Gone are the days in which passwords meant reliable protection and your personal internet activity was actually private. We must come to terms with the fact that our most important, personal, and even secret information is incredibly vulnerable to attack from outside sources. Over the last several years, cyber attacks have become a very serious reality for the American public. Sensitive information of tens of millions of Americans has been stolen by actors in cyberspace as a result of insufficient data security. There has been a call to action for federal agencies to step up security regulations and to protect the sensitive information of the American government and its people. Being discussed on the floor this week is the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) which may be critical to preventing future breaches. We’re calling out some of the top Capitol Hill players who are advocating for enhanced cyber security legislation and are vying for the approval of this bill.
1. Senator Ron Johnson
Ron Johnson is Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and also serves on the Budget, Foreign Relations, and Commerce, Science and Transportation committees.
In late July, Johnson introduced a bill aimed to strengthen federal agencies’ cyber defenses. The Federal Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2015 would require that all federal agencies implement stronger protections and state-of-the-art technologies to defend against cyberattacks, and it would address shortcomings in deployment and adoption of the Department of Homeland Security’s federal cybersecurity program known as EINSTEIN.
“The U.S. government’s computer networks are under attack. Hacktivists, organized crime syndicates and nation-states have successfully launched electronic assaults against vulnerable government networks, some of which house millions of Americans’ personal and private information… Had the powers of this bill been implemented already, they likely would have stopped the hack of the Office of Personnel Management. They will make it far more difficult for our adversaries to steal our private data and to penetrate government networks.” –Ron Johnson
2. Senator Richard Burr
Senator Richard Burr has served five terms in the House and is currently serving North Carolina in his second term in the U.S. Senate. He is Chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and also sits on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee as well as the Finance Committee.
Senator Burr is the sponsor of CISA currently under consideration on the Senate floor. The Senator sponsored the bill earlier this year to improve cybersecurity through enhanced sharing of information about cybersecurity threats. He proposed CISA as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act.
“Not only does CISA propose a solution to help address these threats, it does so in a way that works to ensure the personal privacy of all Americans. We can no longer simply watch Americans’ personal information continue to be compromised. This bill is long needed and will help us combat threats to our country and our economy.” –Richard Burr
3. Senator Dianne Feinstein
Senator Dianne Feinstein serves as the Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. She is also a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee as well as the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. She also chairs the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
Senator Feinstein co-authored CISA which first launched in 2014. The current discussion around the act moved to expand information shared about cybersecurity threats and defensive mechanisms between the government and companies and within the private sector in order to combat the rapid increase in attacks on computer systems.
“Cyber attacks present the greatest threat to our national and economic security today, and the magnitude of the threat is growing. Every week we hear about the theft of personal information from retailers and trade secrets from innovative businesses, as well as ongoing efforts by foreign nations to hack government networks. This bill is an important step toward curbing these dangerous cyber attacks.” –Dianne Feinstein
4. Rep. Devin Nunes
Congressman Devin Nunes serves as Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and is a member of the Ways and Means Committee.
The congressman authored the Protecting Cyber Networks Act which passed this spring with sweeping bipartisan support. Similarly to CISA, the bill encourages businesses and the federal government to share information on known cyber threats.
“The increasing pace and scope of cyberattacks cannot be ignored. This bill will strengthen our digital defenses so that American consumers and businesses will not be put at the mercy of malevolent cyberthieves.” –Devin Nunes
5. Rep. Michael McCaul
Congressman Michael McCaul serves as Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and is also a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Science and Technology.
McCaul introduced the Cyber Defense of Federal Networks Act: legislation that moves to defend federal agencies against cyber threats posed by state-sponsored espionage, criminals and terrorists.
“In light of the massive OPM hacks, it’s clear that our nation’s federal digital infrastructure isn’t capable of effectively detecting and defending against these cyber threats. Currently, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) hands are tied in responding to ever growing cyber threats. Providing DHS with similar abilities to defend federal networks that the Department of Defense uses to protect military networks is commonsense legislation.” –Michael McCaul
6. Rep Will Hurd
Freshman congressman, Will Hurd serves on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform as well as the House Committee on Homeland Security. He is also a former agent of the CIA, in which he served 9 years focusing on counterterrorism and cyber security.
As Chairman of the newly formed House Information Technology Subcommittee, he remains concerned with the threat that cyber crime poses to the American public.
“It’s almost impossible to keep people out. You really have to start with a presumption of breach. So, the question becomes: ‘How quickly can you detect someone getting in your system? Can you cordon them off and trap them, and then can you determine what they have done up to the point of identification?’.” –Will Hurd
7. Diane Rinaldo
Diane Rinaldo manages the cyber portfolio for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. This top-secret committee is leading the policy discussion on how the private sector can better combat cyber threats. Diane has managed the House’s key cyber bill the last three Congresses. She is the former Chief of Staff and Legislative Director of Rep. Mike Rogers.
8. Brendan Shields
Brendan Shields joined the House Committee on Homeland Security last year as Staff Director. Under Brendan’s leadership, the Homeland Security Committee has passed several pieces of cyber legislation. Additionally, he served in the Navy supporting counterterrorism missions overseas.
9. Kevin Gates
Kevin Gates is a professional staff member at the House Armed Services Committee. Kevin works closely with information technology and cyber operations, and science, technology, and information operations programs. As Congress begins debating appropriate responses to cyber intrusions from foreign state actors, Armed Services will play a pivotal role in the posture of cyberspace.
10. Michael Geffroy
Michael Geffroy works as general counsel for the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. He formerly served as the Deputy Staff Director and Chief Counsel for the Committee on Homeland Security. While all eyes will be on Leadership during the Senate debate, the Senate Intelligence Committee is proving they can work in a bipartisan manner to get a bill across the line.
Check out our Famous 5 interview with Heather Dahl who is battling cyber crime in the creative world of comic books.