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GOP: Working With Obama To Enhance Cybersecurity

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., delivered this week’s Republican address, calling for bipartisan action in response to recent cybersecurity threats, including the hacks against Sony Pictures, Target and Anthem Healthcare.

Johnson was Tuesday’s KVML “Newsmaker of the Day”. Here are his words:

“Hi, I’m Senator Ron Johnson, from the great state of Wisconsin.  Coming from a manufacturing background in the private sector, I’ve done a lot of relationship building and negotiating.   I wouldn’t start those negotiations or relationships with an argument.  Instead, I would spend a fair amount of time trying to discover all the areas of agreement.  That approach produced a level of trust so that when areas of disagreement arose, it was far easier finding common ground.

So let me start today by talking about something we all agree on.  We share the same goal.  We all want a prosperous, safe and secure America.  We care about each other, and want every American to have the opportunity to build a good life for themselves and their family.  If we concentrate on that shared goal, it should be a whole lot easier finding solutions for the many challenges facing our great nation.

In such uncertain times, Americans are hungering for leadership. Most Americans would agree that we need to enhance the economic and national security of our country. In fact, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, I’ve made that our committee’s mission.

Majority Leader McConnell, Speaker Boehner, and the Republicans in Congress want to work with our Democrat colleagues, and the Obama administration, to provide that leadership.

Our economy is not as strong as it should be, middle class income is down, the threat of terrorism is growing, and our borders are not secure.  All of these problems deserve immediate attention. But today, I would like to address another important threat – a present-day threat to our economic stability and national security.  That threat is the growing number of attacks against America’s cyber networks.

Recent cyberattacks against Anthem Healthcare, Sony Pictures, Target, a Department of Defense Twitter account, and JP Morgan Chase have raised public awareness of the threat we face.

Two years ago, former NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander described cyber-crime against public and private organizations as ‘the greatest transfer of wealth in human history.’

It is estimated that cyberattacks cost U.S. businesses approximately $100 billion per year.   And a successful attack against our electrical grid or industrial control systems that operate other critical infrastructure, could put American lives, and our very way of life, at risk.

As a result, I was glad to hear the president express his willingness to work with Congress to pass legislation to address the problem.  Enhancing America’s cybersecurity is a priority of my committee, and was the subject of my first hearing as chairman.  It is the focus of other committees in Congress, and we are working with them to craft a legislative solution that takes important first steps in mitigating the threat.

Cyber experts generally agree that, in order to improve cybersecurity, it is critical to facilitate the sharing of cyberattack information.  By sharing threat signatures, vulnerabilities and other indicators of network compromise, within and between the private sector and government, many cyberattacks can be prevented.  In addition to coordinating our defense against cyberattacks, government is also responsible for finding the attackers and shutting them down.

The only way private sector organizations will share this critical information is if they are protected against lawsuits filed against them as a result of their sharing of information.   In the past, special interests in Washington have blocked this necessary liability protection.  Hopefully, now that the president has acknowledged cybersecurity as a priority, all interested parties will realize that the greater threat to Americans’ privacy and liberty really are the cyberattacks themselves.

Cyberattacks may not dominate the headlines every day, but they present a crucial challenge to the safety and security of this nation. Reducing this threat would benefit every American. Ignoring it will guarantee that future attacks will produce headlines describing lasting harm to America.  We need to get this done.  I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress and the Obama administration to resolve this issue – this year.

Thank you for listening, and have a great day.”

The “Newsmaker of the Day” is heard every weekday morning on AM 1450 KVML at 6:45, 7:45 and 8:45 AM.