WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, today pressed senior cybersecurity officials on vulnerabilities in federal information technology systems and supply chains, including last year’s SolarWinds hack resulting in breaches of multiple government agencies and departments, many of which are responsible for homeland security and protecting Americans.
Peters convened the bipartisan oversight hearing to examine how American cyber defenses were unprepared for this attack, how federal agencies and departments worked to determine its impact and what action was taken to notify Congress of the effects. Peters also asked the witnesses what additional steps lawmakers can take to shore up American cyber defenses and ensure the impact of future attacks are minimal.
Testifying before the committee were: Chris DeRusha, Federal Chief Information Security Officer, Office of Management and Budget; Brandon Wales, Acting Director, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency; and Tonya Ugoretz, Deputy Assistant Director for Cyber Readiness, Outreach, and Intelligence Branch, Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“Foreign adversaries, like China and Russia, continue to exploit our cyber vulnerabilities to access confidential and classified information, disrupt government operations, and even target businesses, schools and critical infrastructure. Unless our capabilities are able to match the threats we face, American networks and supply chains remain at risk,” said Peters during his opening statement.
Peters continued: “In order to adapt to the evolving cybersecurity threat, both the public and private sector need a centralized, transparent, and streamlined process for sharing information. In the event of a future attacks, this will be critical to mitigating the damage.”
To watch video of Senator Peters’ opening remarks, click here. For text of Peters’ opening remarks as prepared, click here.
To watch video of Senator Peters’ questions, click here.
As the top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and a member of the bipartisan Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, Peters has led efforts to bolster our nation’s cybersecurity defenses. As a part of the American Rescue Plan Act, Peters helped secure nearly $2 billion to modernize and secure information systems critical to the federal pandemic response. Last Congress, the Senate unanimously approved Peters’ bills to develop and retain highly-skilled cybersecurity professionals in the federal workforce and strengthen cybersecurity coordination between DHS and state and local governments. Peters has also pushed bipartisan legislation to improve access to cybersecurity resources and training for small businesses and support K-12 schools with the resources they need to bolster their cybersecurity. A provision based on his bill to ensure that America is prepared to respond to and recover in the event of a major cyber-attack passed as part of the 2020 annual defense bill.