Cybersecurity Hearing Prompts Calls For Leadership, Laws

A key issue at the hearing was whether cybersecurity should be overseen by the intelligence and military establishment or whether it should also include a role for the private sector.
The hearing was mostly focused, however, on the cybersecurity leadership vacuum.

Charney, for instance, said there was need for coordinated national cyberspace strategy and that while broad regulation might not be desirable, some regulatory incentives have to be put forward because "customers will not pay for the level of security necessary to protect national security."

That's something Lieberman, who wasn't at the hearing, agrees with. "The president really needs to put his foot down and dictate to federal agencies who is responsible for what and provide a national policy," he said, adding that new laws are needed to deal with threats because the existing legal framework is inadequate.

Davidson offered the most provocative suggestion of the afternoon: She suggested that the United States should create a new version of the Monroe Doctrine that applies to cyberspace.

The Monroe Doctrine, introduced in 1823 by President James Monroe, declared that efforts by European countries to colonize land or interfere in the Americas would be viewed as acts of aggression and would prompt U.S. intervention.

Revised for cyberspace, the Davidson Doctrine, as one panel participant suggested it be called, would presumably promise an offensive response to online attacks originating from outside the United States

"You can't win a war if you don't admit you're in one," Davidson said. "And you can't win on defense."

But before the United States can think about winning, it has to be prepared to fight. And as several of the speakers at the hearing said, "We are not prepared."

InformationWeek will be highlighting innovative government IT organizations in an upcoming issue. Nominate your agency by submitting an essay on your most innovative IT initiative completed in the last year. Find out more, and nominate your organization by May 1.

Editors' Choice
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer, Dark Reading
Kelly Jackson Higgins 2, Editor-in-Chief, Dark Reading