Cyberspace touches practically everything and everyone. It provides a platform for innovation and prosperity and the means to improve general welfare around the globe. But with the broad reach of a loose and lightly regulated digital infrastructure, great risks threaten nations, private enterprises, and individual rights. The government has a responsibility to address these strategic vulnerabilities to ensure that the United States and its citizens, together with the larger community of nations, can realize the full potential of the information technology revolution.
The architecture of the nation’s digital infrastructure, based largely upon the Internet, is not secure or resilient. Without major advances in the security of these systems or significant change in how they are constructed or operated, it is doubtful that the United States can protect itself from the growing threat of cybercrime and state-sponsored intrusions and operations. Our digital infrastructure has already suffered intrusions that have allowed criminals to steal hundreds of millions of dollars and nation-states and other entities to steal intellectual property and sensitive military information. Other intrusions threaten to damage portions of our critical infrastructure. These and other risks have the potential to undermine the nation’s confidence in the information systems that underlie our economic and national security interests.
The federal government is not organized to address this growing problem effectively now or in the future. Responsibilities for cybersecurity are distributed across a wide array of federal departments and agencies, many with overlapping authorities, and none with sufficient decision authority to direct actions that deal with often conflicting issues in a consistent way. The government needs to integrate competing interests to derive a holistic vision and plan to address the cybersecurity related issues confronting the United States. The nation needs to develop the policies, processes, people, and technology required to mitigate cybersecurity related risks.
Information and communications networks are largely owned and operated by the private sector, both nationally and internationally. Thus, addressing network security issues requires a public-private partnership as well as international cooperation and norms. The United States needs a comprehensive framework to ensure coordinated response and recovery by the government, the private sector, and our allies to a significant incident or threat.
The United States needs to conduct a national dialogue on cybersecurity to develop more public awareness of the threat and risks and to ensure an integrated approach toward the Nation’s need for security and the national commitment to privacy rights and civil liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and law.
Research on new approaches to achieving security and resiliency in information and communications infrastructures is insufficient. The government needs to increase investment in research that will help address cybersecurity vulnerabilities while also meeting our economic needs and national security requirements.