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Congressman Putnam Issues National Cyber Security Call to Action

In a hearing on cybersecurity and identity theft held on Wednesday, September 22nd, Cong. Adam Putnam (R.-Fla.), chair of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology and Information Policy, expressed his frustration about the lack of progress on addressing cybersecurity and what he described as the “growing and dangerous threat of cyber attack.”  He said, “Not only [are] federal agencies failing to comply with the requirements of the law, . . . the private sector [is] also seriously delinquent in its attention to these matters.”

Below are some further excerpts from his opening statement:

Well folks…here we are a year later, and quite frankly, not only has this problem not gotten much better, there is compelling evidence…and we will hear some of it today…that this problem is getting worse…and maybe a lot worse. 

In today’s digital world, we must also protect our cyber assets and our personal information from intruders…both internal and external…from those who would do us harm or steal our assets.  We have not focused sufficiently on this challenge and as a result… our personal and national security AND our personal and national economic stability are subject to a growing risk…from enemies who may attack at any time of day or night, from anywhere in the world, 365 days a year.

Accordingly, on this day and at this time…I am calling on this nation…everyone in this nation…to take immediate actions to increase your protection and to dramatically improve the cyber security profile of this nation…TODAY!  We are ALL stakeholders, and we ALL have a responsibility to be a part of the solution…and not a continuing part of the problem.

. . . I call on major corporations to schedule on the agenda of your NEXT senior management meeting AND your next Board of Directors meeting, a discussion about your company’s computer information security plan.  This is a management, governance and business process issue and must be treated accordingly. 

. . . I call on all small business owners to take the time and learn about steps that you can take that are affordable and user-friendly to make your system more secure from the growing threats of cyber space. 

. . . I call on Internet Service Providers and Operating Systems manufacturers to work more aggressively with other public and private stakeholders to provide consumers of all levels of sophistication with information about affordable and user-friendly tools that are available to help them protect themselves and immediately improve their cyber security hygiene.

. . . I call on home users to become more aware of the tools that are available to you to improve on the protection of your home computer.  Make sure you know about anti-virus software, and personal firewalls, and how to update your applications, including your operating system, in a timely manner.

. . . Today I call on all states and local governments to examine their own information security plans, along with their education, awareness and training programs. 

Interestingly, the complex, diverse computing environments in colleges and universities result in blended environments that contain many of the same issues confronted by businesses (large and small), ISP’s (because so many of the computers connected to our networks are personally owned), and home users (since many of our students and employees that commute bring their home computers onto campus.)  Therefore, the “call to action” applies to higher education even though we are not specifically called out by Cong. Putnam.  EDUCAUSE is participating in Cong. Putnam’s Corporate Information Security Working Group because through our member institutions we have expertise to offer to the process.  Additionally, we are well aware that cybersecurity laws and policy developed for government and industry will surely trickle down to higher education eventually so we want to influence their development at the earliest stage possible.

See Cong. Putnam’s Press Release and Opening Statement for more information.

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