Cyber capabilities have brought the world together, creating opportunities to connect individuals, link markets, and increase access to all kinds of information. But with these advances come new security challenges. The cyber capabilities of US adversaries and competitors have rapidly expanded in recent years, including for cyber attacks against military systems and critical infrastructure, cyber espionage targeting governments and corporations, and cyber influence operations.
The United States has already fallen victim to cyber attacks, including Russia’s attacks on the 2016 elections. In advance of the 2018 elections, the Department of Homeland Security announced it had detected a growing volume of cyber activity targeting election infrastructure. Cyber attacks have against the United States have continued since. In December of 2018, U.S. Navy officials reported that Chinese hackers had repeatedly stolen information from Navy contractors including ship maintenance data and missile plans. The White House estimates that malicious cyber activity cost the U.S. economy between $57 billion and $109 billion in 2016. The number of cyber attacks carried out against the United States, most notably by nation-states, but also by terrorist and criminal groups, is increasing exponentially.
In October of 2018, the Trump Administration issued their National Cyber Strategy based on four pillars: protecting the American people, the homeland and the American way of life by safeguarding networks, systems, functions and data; promoting American prosperity by nurturing a secure, thriving, digital economy and fostering strong domestic innovation; preserving peace and security by strengthening the ability of the U.S., its partners and allies to deter and punish those who use cyber maliciously; and advancing American influence to extend the key tenets of an open, interoperable, reliable and secure internet.
This is an important foundation, but President Trump’s National Cyber Strategy fails to take a comprehensive approach to the evolving cyber threats facing the United States and does not allow for effective congressional oversight. It lacks innovative solutions on the scale needed to address this threat. Meanwhile, the Trump Administration has eliminated two key cybersecurity positions: the White House Cyber Coordinator position and the State Department’s Coordinator for Cyber Issues.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
We need Congress to advance new measures to protect American elections and key infrastructure from attack, and to promote international efforts with our democratic allies to advance cyber security and stability. That starts by protecting our elections in the face of continued Russian aggression.
Call your Senators and Representative at (202) 224-3121 and ask them to prioritize efforts to enhance cyber security. Here are some things you can say:
Congress should take urgent actions to protect our election infrastructure and combat foreign disinformation efforts. Free and fair elections the cornerstone of American democracy, and Russian cyber attacks threaten their legitimacy.
We need stronger Congressional oversight of the technology giants: Facebook, Twitter, and Google. All three can and should do far more to defend their platforms against campaigns to incite hatred and fear, and divide Americans.
We need a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy to protect our financial institutions, business, and military capabilities. Instead of wasting money on outdated weapons systems, the United States needs to invest in modernized approaches to defending our national security.
Thematic Brief: US Cybersecurity Efforts - Third Way
International Strategy for Cyberspace - Obama White House
President Trump Unveils America’s First Cybersecurity Strategy in 15 Years - Trump White House
Significant Cyber Incidents - Center for Strategic and International Studies
The Cost of Malicious Cyber Activity to the U.S. Economy - Trump White House