Why we must grow America’s cybersecurity edge
State-sponsored actors have virtually unlimited resources to deploy against our often too-vulnerable infrastructure
As we read the news each day, the real, persistent and escalating threat of cybercrime in the form of ransomware attacks, business email compromises and deceptive attacks aimed at phishing for personal, confidential and financial information is becoming a part of our daily lives.
From the cyberattack that shut down the Colonial Pipeline to the SolarWinds and Kasaya breaches that exposed thousands of companies, these represent only the beginning of a pattern of ever more sophisticated attacks against our domestic infrastructure and private companies.
Closer to home, New Hampshire is far from immune as a number of local individuals, companies, and municipalities have felt the financial impact of these threats.
Increasingly, cybercrime is being driven by state actors such as China, which the White House expressly recognized and called out over the summer.
In an extraordinary joint pledge in coordination with our allies in the UK, the European Union and NATO, the White House took on the Chinese government for alleged cyber aggressions saying in part:
“(China’s) pattern of irresponsible behavior in cyberspace is inconsistent with its stated objective of being seen as a responsible leader in the world. Today, countries around the world are making it clear that concerns regarding (China’s) malicious cyber activities is bringing them together to call out those activities, promote network defense and cybersecurity, and act to disrupt threats to our economies and national security.”
This pledge of coordination and teamwork is most encouraging, because at ATOM Group, we the see the value of coordination with our local, state, and federal government agencies as an essential part of our cyber work. We also know it is critical that federal policymakers think along the same lines to unite us at all levels across the public and private sectors against this unique challenge.
State-sponsored threat actors have virtually unlimited resources to deploy against our often too-vulnerable cybersecurity infrastructure, leading to a broadening digital battlefront that we need to study, understand, plan for, and ultimately address.
I am heartened that the American people and leaders at all levels of government have proven time and again to be among the most innovative and entrepreneurial in the world.
The 21st century economy is driven by countless technologies that aid our competitive edge and afford us any number of benefits. The tech platforms and innovations are a key part of the backbone of our infrastructure and are the result of significant private sector risk-taking, advancing public-private partnerships, research and development. These efforts are only possible when government does not enact policies that would have otherwise stunted these developments in their infancy or created strict regulatory hurdles that keep useful technologies out of the hands of those they seek to help.
As Congress weighs measures to address cybersecurity, we urge the federal delegation to be wary of deeply flawed proposals that could harm technology companies and the public private partnerships currently leading this fight. There are bills pending in Congress that, if passed, could undermine competition and concede our hard-earned technological edge to rivals who seek to do us harm. According to a recent report, nine of the world’s top 20 technology companies are now based in China, while the Council on Foreign Relations notes that other nations are spending more on developing new technologies, with China the likely world leader in R&D spending after 2030.
Here in New Hampshire, we have built a vibrant technology ecosystem in part because of hard-working, risk-taking, entrepreneurial-minded residents and a regulatory climate that encourages the honest, thoughtful and genuine creativity of the engineers and technologists in our organizations.
Our future is guided by technology, and I trust that future along with visionary leaders who can harness that technology for the betterment of our communities, our country, and our world. To that end, I encourage federal policymakers to embrace that same philosophy, along with an independent New Hampshire spirit, and be skeptical of overreaching proposals that would undermine the companies and systems that have made our country and economy among the strongest in the world.
Jason Sgro is senior partner at The ATOM Group, who manages the Portsmouth-based firm’s Cybersecurity and Human Privacy Practice.