07.27.15

Daines: Our Country’s Most Sensitive Data Can Be in the Hands of Our Enemies

“We must act more quickly and more nimbly than those seeking to wage a terrorist attack on our nation's cybersecurity infrastructure.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Steve Daines, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, today emphasized the growing threat of a serious cyber attack from the Islamic State— including the potential to penetrate America’s vehicles, like the risk that spurred the recent recall from Fiat Chrysler. 

“Recent news reminds us that we must also consider the security of the cars that are driving on our roadways. In fact, just in the past week news broke that Fiat Chrysler announced the recall of 1.4 million vehicles due to vulnerability that could allow hackers to disable the vehicles on the highways,” Daines stated. “In fact, through the radio of a Jeep Cherokee, hackers disabled the vehicle’s transmission as a driver drove on a public highway in St. Louis. This episode is telling that cyber hacks can affect every sector of our economy, from the financial sector to our automotive manufacturers."

Click here to watch Daines’ speech.

Click here to download Daines’ speech.

Daines made the following remarks on the Senate floor this evening:

“Mr. President, today I rise to speak about the nation’s cybersecurity.  

“Prior to being elected to the United States Senate, I spent nearly 12 years working at a cloud computing company. This is a company we started up from virtually nothing. We took the company public and we grew it to over a thousand employees. It became a leading cloud computing company in the customer experience sector. 

“I’ve seen firsthand the opportunities created by advances in technology. But I’ve also seen the power that big data holds because our information becomes currency for both companies and for hackers. These risks are even greater when they impact our children. 

“As a dad of four children, I know the importance of maintaining a close relationship between the parents as well as our children’s school. Today, student electronic records are used in schools across the country and updates can be easily made and can follow a student from one school to another. This more accurately reflects the nature of students’ movement within the school system.  

“At a time when overseas hackers are fighting to gain access to any information they can, these technological gains also come with some risk. Securing students’ digital information is critical to ensuring that our kids’ privacy is protected. That’s why I’m grateful and proud to announce that I joined Senator Blumenthal in introducing the SAFE KIDS Act. The Safeguarding American Family from Exposure by Keeping Information in Data Secure (SAFE KIDS) Act protects student privacy by establishing clear parameters for third-party operators when using data collected from students.  This bipartisan legislation empowers parents to control access to their children’s information.  

“Keeping personally identifiable information secure leads to a uniform way to secure our students’ data. Placing that power back in the hands of the students, in the hands of parents and the schools, we can make progress towards protecting the privacy of our children. 

“Our schools and our kids aren’t the only ones at risk for serious breach. This week, we are debating ways to provide the certainty and resources needed to improve our nation’s infrastructure – our roads, our bridges, our ports, our highways. 

“Recent news reminds us that we must also consider the security of the cars that are driving on our roadways. In fact, just in the past week news broke that Fiat Chrysler announced the recall of 1.4 million vehicles due to vulnerability that could allow hackers to disable the vehicles on the highways. 

“In fact, through the radio of a Jeep Cherokee, hackers disabled the vehicle’s transmission as a driver drove on a public highway in St. Louis. This episode is telling that cyber hacks can affect every sector of our economy, from the financial sector to our automotive manufacturers.  

“Our military installations across the globe are also vulnerable to an attack, according to a new report from the GAO. In fact, our utility systems that provide water, electricity, and other essential services to our military installations worldwide have limited defenses against cyber attacks. 

“The report details that the industrial control system or ICS, the computers that monitor or operate physical utility infrastructure – and I quote – “have very little in the way of security controls and cybersecurity measures in place.” 

“In a recent July 25 Military Times article, they cite an example of a successful cyber physical attack through an ICS. The ‘Stuxnet’ was a computer virus that was used to attack Iranian centrifuges in 2010. By hacking the Iranian nuclear facility’s ICS, the centrifuges were made to operate incorrectly, causing extensive damage. But the fears of a massive cybersecurity breach don’t only rest in the Pentagon. 

“Just yesterday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said on ABC’s “This Week” that a cyber attack by the Islamic State is one of the terrorist group’s biggest emerging threats to our country.  In the interview, Attorney General Lynch noted that the terrorist group now boasts over 20,000 English-language Twitter followers. 

“Our country’s most sensitive data can be in the hands of our enemies at the mere click of a button or press of a screen. 

“As I speak today, we have yet to obtain answers from the Obama administration on the scope and the perpetrators from the massive hack at the Office of Personnel Management.  

“This attack has paralyzed the Obama administration. They haven’t put in place any real, meaningful reforms at OPM. 

“I have called on Chief Information Officer Donna Seymour’s resignation since June 24, but she remains at her post. We still have yet to have any concrete answers for the some 21 million plus federal employees who were victims of this attack.

“We must do more. We must act more quickly and more nimbly than those seeking to wage a terrorist attack on our nation's cybersecurity infrastructure.”

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