Seventeen years post-9/11, we have not suffered a physical attack of similar magnitude. This does not mean we are not under attack. Our increasing reliance on our internet infrastructure has caused hostile entities to evolve their methods of assault, and they now represent a critical and ongoing cyber threat that we must confront. In reality, we are under attack every day.
Last week the EastWest Institute (EWI), an organization with a history of addressing international conflict resolution including security issues (and on whose board I sit), hosted one of its ongoing Global Cooperation in Cyberspace Progress Roundtable meetings. We discussed the implications of the dynamic cyber threat, and, in my presentation, “The Global Convergence of NatSec and CyberSec: A National Cyber Moonshot,” I suggested to the assembled experts that we must take on cybersecurity with the same foresight, effort and intensity once reserved for national security.
My message was clear: cybersecurity is national security. As a result, industry leaders must work together with government – along with academia, citizens and visitors – to protect the security of our nation and our way of life.
There is growing momentum for such a “whole of nation” approach. As a member of The President’s National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC), I co-chair its “Cybersecurity Moonshot” initiative, the purpose of which is to develop a robust set of recommendations for a broad plan – similar in some respects to the one once announced by President Kennedy for “landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth” by the end of the 1960s – for a safer, more resilient use of the Internet to deliver government and critical infrastructure services.
This plan will lay out the vision that we believe we need. It will include meaningful recommendations that address both current and potential future challenges, along with a host of other factors, such as behavioral dynamics and usability, protecting privacy, a strong ecosystem, education and a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities to achieve success. The vision is bold, it is audacious and it acknowledges the convergence of national security and cybersecurity. Our final report is due in November of this year.
Dialogue among cybersecurity experts – whether sponsored by the Moonshot sub-committee or at the two-day EWI event – could not be happening at a more critical inflection point for this issue. I am excited to see the fruits of these sessions come to life.
Digitally-connected technologies and the core internet infrastructure are providing an immeasurable and far-reaching positive societal impact. Our ability to protect and enhance this environment for current and future generations must be a national imperative of singular, strategic importance. This will not be easy, but we must succeed.