Perhaps it’s the sign of the times, but the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced that cyber-attacks are more of a threat to the United States than terrorist attacks. After this announcement, which was made by senior counterterrorism officials, officials at the FBI, DHS and National Counterterrorism Center recommended changing surveillance programs at what they called the “margins.”
Weighing the Greater of Two Evils
Rand Beers of the DHS recently said that a massive terrorist attack is now more of a threat to targets overseas than it is in the homeland. He went on to state that this is no reason, however, for us to “drop our guard in any way.”
Reflecting the magnitude of cyber-attacks, FBI Director James Comey said just last September that cyber-attacks were likely to pass terrorist attacks as the largest domestic danger over the next decade. He said that, unlike protecting our country from terror attacks, “there are no safe neighborhoods” when it comes to the World Wide Web and that we are all targets as a result.
Specifically, we must concentrate our efforts on threats to massive, online networks, such as those that house sensitive business and government data. Both Beers and Comey have urged Congress to pass cyber-security legislation that would provide the government with access to data within the private sector as to study the vulnerability of business and other non-governmental networks.
Passing Legislation May be Challenging
Congress may not be so easily, swayed, though. Senator Tom Coburn – R, for example, argued that private corporations should have the opportunity to comply before being forced by the government to turn over sensitive data. He also said that any new legislation should come with legal protection promises for companies that disclose sensitive or proprietary information. In other words, legislation must be carefully worded to avoid a “total blanket” approach, as it could violate civil liberties.