Ratcliffe chairs hearing on U.S. cybersecurity

A subcommittee hearing chaired by U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) on Thursday heard testimony from leading cybersecurity experts on the serious national security threats currently faced by the U.S. from other nation states and malicious cyber actors.

The hearing, held by the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies and entitled “Emerging Cyber Threats to the United States,” served to spotlight cybersecurity threats from nation states, criminal organizations and terrorist groups.

“Cybersecurity is national security, and today’s hearing reaffirmed this important principle,” Ratcliffe, chairman of the subcommittee, said. “We cannot allow cyber adversaries to be left undeterred from conducting attacks that could jeopardize sensitive matters of national security, compromise our nation’s critical infrastructure and undermine the personal privacy of Americans.”

Director of the George Washington University Center for Cyber and Homeland Security Frank Cilluffo told the hearing that the greatest cyber threat remains nation states and their proxies.

“Nation states often use proxies to conceal their activities,” Cilluffo said. “[Hackers] may be state actors, they may be state sanctioned, or they may be state sponsored. Russia and China both use proxies to deny their involvement and mask how involved the countries are in the hacking activities.

“Banks, security systems, and clearance systems are all at risk.”

Cilluffo said that foreign terrorist organizations currently lack the sophistication to enact highly disruptive cyber attacks but have shown the intent to do so.

“It is likely that ISIS, or their sympathizers, will increasingly turn to disruptive cyber attacks,” Cilluffo said.

Ratcliffe added that cyber security will increasing play a role in protecting Americans.

“As a former federal terrorism prosecutor, protecting our homeland is always a top priority,” Ratcliffe said. “And in today’s world, defending against cyber threats plays an enormous role in keeping Americans safe. I will continue utilizing my role as a cybersecurity subcommittee chairman to ensure this important goal is met.”

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