"Wired World: Cyber Security and the US Economy"
Hearing before the Joint Economic Committee
June 21, 2001
Good morning, and thank you for joining us today as we take a closer
look at the issue of cyber security within our increasingly "wired
world." During this hearing, we will explore current and future cyber
threats to U.S. economic and national security. We also will examine
whether the current policies governing cyber security and critical
infrastructure protection are sufficient.
Senator Robert F. Bennett
Senate Ranking Republican Member
The National Intelligence Council will begin by placing the cyber
threat over the next fifteen years in the context of globalization.
Next, we have a distinguished panel of four representatives from
the private sector who will discuss the following: (1) the unintended
security issues related to interconnectivity; (2) industry initiatives
to mitigate cyber security risks; (3) the need for the United States
to focus on cyber security in a strategic way, that is, ; and (4)
How strong public-private partnerships can protect our information
Over the past ten years, the world has undergone dramatic technological
changes. As technology systems rapidly evolve, most notably the
Internet, so can the risk. The benefits of technology are easy to
understand. [Personal example: e-mail in a Senate office did not
exist..] Improved communications means a growth of commerce, expanded
free trade and a more closely integrated world.
However, this increased reliance on information technology creates
a complicated set of threats to U.S. national and economic security..
The enormous proliferation of connectivity and technology now means
that potential adversaries no longer need traditional military tools
to attack or disrupt the U.S. economy. The tangled web of networks
is a potential launching pad for attacks, espionage and viruses
by almost anyone around the world. Computer viruses, like the "Love
Bug" can cause GLOBAL damage and disruption. Some of these computer
networks and information systems operate parts of critical infrastructures
once only accessible by the military. For example, in early May,
hackers appearing to originate in China routed themselves through
servers in Oklahoma and California and found their way into the
California power grid. While the hackers did not cause any blackouts,
the potential damage could have been significant.
The borderless world wired together by the Internet is based on
computer network connections and powerful communications nodes that
are literally redefining the geography of commerce and communication..
While working on the Y2K effort in the Senate, I got a glimpse of
the connectivity of the United States and the World. It was clear
to me computer vulnerabilities can translate into damage to the
department of defense capabilities. However, 85% of U.S. critical
infrastructures, such as telecommunications, energy, banking, and
transportation systems, are owned by the private sector. In an interconnected
world, the private sector is on the front line. Thus, our ideas
about national security need to be revisited. A failure to understand
computer vulnerabilities will result in economic loss.
It is important to remember that the Internet was built for sharing,
not security. It is inherently open and decentralized. This
freedom can be costly, though. Computer Economics, a California-based
research firm, reports that computer viruses in 2000 cost American
businesses over $17 billion in losses. Unfortunately, no one really
knows what was lost in terms of intellectual property through espionage,
hacking, or foreign intelligence services.
If we leave this hearing with one idea it should be this: The
physical world that Rand McNally and other mapmakers introduced
us to must not dominate our strategic thinking for the next century.
Instead, we - Congress, the executive branch and the private sector
- must view the emerging geography from a strategic perspective.
Attempts to map the Internet reveal a world where physical geography
disappears. We must resist the temptation to think about the Internet
in a traditional context of political and geographic boundaries.
The world has fundamentally changed and we cannot go back.
Over the past several years, there have been many efforts to understand
the security associated with cyber-based threats. All too often,
however, the complex issues of cyber security and infrastructure
protection are overshadowed by the attention paid to hacking exploits
and website defacements. It is time that we finally turn to the
more strategic security challenges to our economic and national
security. We need to take a fresh look at U.S. cyber security infrastructure
protection policy. Thank you.