on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection
November 19, 2003
2123 Rayburn House Office Building
Prepared Statement of The Honorable W.J. "Billy" Tauzin
Mr. Chairman, Thank you for calling this important hearing today.
Cyber security is a very serious concern in today's digital world,
and as our global economy and all of our lives rely more and more
on computers, it will become essential that we ensure that our
nation's computers-corporate, government, and personal computers-are
safe from the hackers and other malefactors in the digital environment.
We've learned in the last few years how much damage viruses and
worms, such as "Sobig.F" and "Blaster," can
do to our computer infrastructure. In fact, the New York Times
estimated that the cost of the "I Love you" virus alone-which
seriously affected this House and this Committee-may have reached
much as $15 Billion.
Computers affect almost every aspect of our daily lives. From
our computers at home and our personal e-mail accounts, to the
daily work of the public and private sectors, the role of computers
in our society is so ubiquitous as to go almost unnoticed at times.
The security of these systems however cannot go unnoticed. Not
only can the e-mail system of the House of Representatives be hindered
or disabled, but one shudders to think of the damage that could
be done to countless consumers if someone was able to infiltrate
one of the many enormous databases in this country and steal the
personal information-from credit card numbers to music preferences-of
millions of Americans.
This kind of theft and misuse of personal data is not yet a widespread
problem, but unless we all facilitate and encourage open discussion
about how we best combat the bad actors, we will only see these
problems grow. Most computer
scientists don't say "if" when discussing this possibility, they say "when." They
believe that a truly debilitating virus will inevitably make its way around the
Internet sometime in the relatively near future. Companies must take a preventive
approach when looking at solutions to security problems. They must realize that,
as the old adage says, "An ounce of
prevention is worth a pound of cure." We must combat technology with technology.
Investment must be made in the security of vital and sensitive systems, in order
to ensure the confidence of the American people in the retail, banking, and health
care computer systems they depend upon.
But simply investing in technology to combat viruses is not enough.
In the end, the private sector and the American people must work
in concert to best protect the computers and networks we all use.
The private sector needs to reevaluate its vulnerabilities as well
as its current security priorities. The public needs to be better
educated about anti-virus software and personal firewalls for their
home computers, as well as the insidious "SpyWare" technology
that can monitor individuals' computers and their actions on the
Internet. I know the gentlelady from California, Ms. Bono, has
introduced a bill-H.R. 2929, "The Safeguard Against Privacy
Invasions Act"-that attempts to deal with this concern, and
I look forward to working with her on the bill to try to prevent
In the end, Mr. Chairman, it seems that the genie is out of the
proverbial bottle, and this problem is not going to go away on
its own. It is up to all of us to work together to safeguard our
computer infrastructure to prevent the next serious virus from
becoming a nationwide, indeed even a worldwide problem.
Thank you, and I yield back the balance of my time.