Thompson Wants to Know Who’s Ensuring Cybersecurity

WASHINGTON, DC – Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Fred Thompson (R-TN) today outlined his expectations for the committee?s upcoming hearing on protection of the nation?s critical infrastructure scheduled for Thursday, October 4.

“At Thursday?s hearing, we will explore plans being instituted to protect our critical infrastructure. The General Accounting Office has told this Committee that it is essential to link the government?s strategy for combating computer-based attacks to the national strategy for combating terrorism,” Thompson said.

“One thing September 11 has taught us is that we should be prepared for, although not afraid of, the unexpected in every facet of our lives,” he added. “Are we prepared for an attack on our vital computer systems? Will there be information sharing among agencies and quick dissemination of information via the Internet or other means? Is there cooperation between the government and the private sector? Will there be coordination between physical and cyber protection? And what resources and funding will be needed for these critical responsibilities?”

Thompson continued, “We are rightly focused on ensuring that greater safeguards are in place to protect us from attacks like those we experienced on September 11. The President has shown tremendous leadership by establishing an organization framework and assigning essential tasks. Whether it be a missile attack by a rogue nation or by terrorists, a suitcase bomb, a biological attack, or a cyber attack, we must ensure that our citizens are protected. Cybersecurity, although just one element of our complex, interconnected infrastructure, is critical. And, it is left to us to ask tough questions of those who we know are trying to do the right thing to protect our citizens from cyberattack.”

Thursday?s hearing will focus on who is in charge of critical infrastructure protection and will include witnesses from both the government and the private sector. Thompson was the chief sponsor, along with Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), of the Government Information Security Reform Act which addressed inadequate government management of computer security by making the Executive Branch accountable for the safe keeping of data kept by the government. The law ? the result of numerous hearings, independent reports and security testing by government computer security experts at the request of Thompson ? was enacted last year as part of the Floyd D. Spence National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2001.