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In the Lame Duck, How Congress Makes Cybersecurity a Non-Partisan Priority

With a lame duck session of Congress looming, federal lawmakers are scrambling to push key legislative items through last-minute. One key area of concern is cybersecurity.

Recent headlines have exposed a wide array of victims, ranging from both corporate to government entities. Stoking concerns is the ongoing controversy surrounding Russian hacking of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign emails and the DNC, in a perceived effort to influence the outcome of the U.S. presidential election. Against this backdrop, several members of Congress have introduced amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to strengthen cybersecurity. Yet, is this enough?

It is without a doubt that the nature of war has changed. For centuries, war has been waged on battlefields and televised around the clock. Now, the theatre of war has shifted and is being waged on computer servers, in homes and at places of work. Not even our most secure government institutions are exempt—exposing troves of private, classified and sensitive information, putting at risk our economic, social and national security.

Foreign aggressors are brazenly infiltrating U.S. institutions and political elections systems—like the recent breach of state voter registration databases in Arizona and Illinois where more than 200,000 voter records were stolen by Russian hackers—shaking the nation’s long-relished standing as an impenetrable global superpower.

Several cybersecurity amendments have been introduced to the NDAA, including a Senate amendment that directs the president to elevate Cyber Command to a Combatant Command (currently it lies subordinate to strategic command). This elevated status will allow resources to be deployed strategically, enabling faster responses to potential threats.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, one of seven senators who sponsored the amendment, stated, “Cyber attacks are an ever-growing threat to our national security.” Blumenthal continued, “As the Internet touches more aspects of our work and daily lives, our military must be equipped to defend and protect our nation. Elevating CYBERCOM to a Combatant Command will enhance its ability to protect Americans from cyber threats.”

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