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House Cybersecurity Chair: US at Risk because Lawmakers Don’t Understand Cyber Issues

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Photo: mccaul.house.gov

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), one of the co-founders of the House cybersecurity caucus, said he sees a dangerous “lack of interest” in cybersecurity in Congress because many lawmakers simply don’t understand the high-tech aspects of the issues.

But, despite legislators’ ignorance or unconcern, the potential for economic disaster from a cyber attack remains a possibility, he said.

McCaul highlighted his work in the cyber field along with the future threat at an event sponsored by Government Executive, the Sans Institute and Northrop Grumman, according to a report on Nextgov.

In 2008, the congressman paired with Democratic colleague Jim Langevin of Rhode Island to create the House Cybersecurity Caucus.

And, later that year, McCaul partnered with the Center for Strategic and International Studies for a commission on cybersecurity, which found that every federal agency had fallen victim to cyber attack.

McCaul explained that more and more  top U.S. policymakers and defense officials are viewing cybersecurity as both a national security and economic issue.

“Many terrorist organizations don’t have the capability, but they could contract with, say, the Russian mafia,” he said of a possible cyber threat, according to Nextgov. “If you take down the Northwest’s electrical grid or a financial system, you do more economic damage than you do by flying a plane into a building.”

But while the threat level has been ratcheted up, the United States is hampered by a lack of coordination on cyber efforts, he said.

McCaul, himself, has taken steps, such as a bill that would give the White House cybersecurity czar more authority over budgets. He has also proposed banning the manufacture of malware and providing incentives to software designers to create more secure operating systems.

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