Last week I was invited to a cyber-consortium hosted by Congressman Steve Israel at Long Islands NYIT College. This was the third meeting of the consortium the Congressman has organized and it had good representation of the NY area, especially on Long Island. Congressman Israel brought up the analogy of how when pushed to action Long Isladers have undergone great transition to change the world. He mentioned how when the space race began, Long Island transitioned from a potato and pumpkin farming community, to the life blood of Northrop Grumman (the company that built the moon lander). He started this consortium to bring us together and stop the threat of cyber risks against our home.
During this session Congressman Tom Graves, from Georgia, presented on his thoughts on where cyber security was going and how he and Congressman Steve Israel are attempting to champion their thoughts through the government. He spoke about how cyber-security was becoming one of the largest concerns in the government now and how we as a country need to start doing more about it. The analogy of hackers was brought up by saying, “We show up to play a football game and the other teams ready to play hockey.” The same rules don’t apply anymore and it’s taking the government time to react to these new challenges.
One of the major topics brought up from the group was on the recent CISA (Computer Information Sharing Act) bill. Both Congressmen voted for the bill and were asked very pointed questions regarding how it worked. There was heavy bipartisan voting on the bill, no matter how you feel about it, and the answers they responded with were very honest. When Congressmen Graves was asked if he thought it would fix the issue of cyber-security he responded that “It’s a piece to a puzzle, but not the end all be all.” He also wanted to see companies deal with vulnerable software first to stop the threat from happening to begin with, because what good will intel do if you’re vulnerable first. He’s one of the politicians that truly gets what we’re doing.
As you most likely know, I’m not a supporter of the CISA bill, but I understand where the Congressmen were coming from. After hearing about the people they knew personally that were affected by the OPM breach, it’s understandable to see their point of view. The aspect of privacy was brought up multiple times with the data being transferred, but the methods and processes weren’t fleshed out yet. All in all, we don’t all have to agree on every topic, but one thing was sure, both of these men are doing what they believe is the best for the cyber security community and will assist with making our home a safer place. I respect them both for doing so and wish we had more Congressmen/Senators that understand the risks we’re dealing with like these two men. It was a privilege to work a few things out with them, even if we don’t completely agree on all the topics. Having different sets of opinions is how you make progress.