Cybersecurity Legislation Should Force U.S. Government to Listen Less and Speak More
Originally published: March 17, 2012
Last updated: April 4, 2012 - 3:20pm
[Commentary] To defend itself from the onslaughts of online crime and espionage backed by China and other nations, America's private sector needs the capabilities of the US government. These tax-paying companies are on the new front lines of the cyber conflict, in which private enterprise is facing nation-state funded threats. Given their role in maintaining America's critical infrastructure, these companies are not getting what they need.
Now, new legislation puts too much stress on their responsibilities to talk to government. There is even talk of forcing cyber monitoring by the National Security Agency upon them. Yet there are more effective and less constitutionally troubling options if the administration is bold enough to take them. To win a battle, at some point you have to take the initiative, put your enemies on the defensive and force them to react: we are now at that culmination point. Adversaries will of course switch to new malicious software, but that is the nature of conflict -- but at least the conflict will be less one-sided. The cyber crisis is dire and the administration should take bold steps to defend America. Forcing companies to accept government monitoring is the wrong kind of step. The right kind starts with NSA sharing its overclassified signatures in a way that boosts the private market, not supplants it. The right legislation will ensure the government declassifies signatures to give taxpaying companies the information they need to continue the fight at the front lines of today's cyber conflict. Some of the same US government officials who warn us about how vulnerable the United States is to cyberattack have called their own cyber collection part of the "golden age of espionage." The government should give up a little of that gold to protect the nation. This is the bold step we need and the one that is long overdue.
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