Time To Tackle Cyberattacks
by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Jun 15, 2010 | 2382 views | 0 0 comments | 50 50 recommendations | email to a friend | print
America must lead the international fight against cybercriminals.

It happens thousands of times each day. Cybercriminals steal Social Security numbers, credit card information or bank account balances, creating havoc for individuals' personal finances and credit ratings.

As the most targeted nation in the world, with losses from online fraud in the billions, the U.S. has experienced large-scale malicious cyber-intrusions from individuals, groups, and nations. And attacks have dramatically increased in number and complexity. Every year, Queens businesses lose nearly $370 million from cyber assaults.

Just last year, Google and over 30 other companies linked to our energy, finance, defense, technology and media sectors fell prey to costly cyber-intrusions. Too many nations either directly sanction this activity or give it tacit approval by failing to investigate or prosecute the perpetrators.

While the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime has laid out some critical norms and responses for member nations, a significant share of cybercriminals and malicious actors (state and non-state) reside in non-member nations. Many of the major incidents are presently coming out of Russia and China, but criminals are adept and will quickly identify future cybercrime havens.

We strongly believe that the U.S. must take a leadership role, both internationally and bilaterally, to establish best practices for nations that allow the Internet to be turned into a criminal enterprise - or even a weapon. This must be done carefully and deliberately to not hinder international commerce and to keep the electronic world open for business.

To address this challenge, we have gathered critical input from affected industries and stakeholders, and put forward common sense legislation that achieves these goals.

First, the president must have members of his cabinet work more closely with foreign governments to develop concrete plans to bring nations harboring cybercrime and cyber terrorism to the table, such as alerting the private sector in different countries when cybercrime in one jurisdiction may affect another or developing cybercrime-related best practices in all international organizations, from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation to the Organization of American States.

Second, we must provide support to those countries that implement policies to deter cyberattacks within their borders, such as training police in online forensic techniques and implementing cybercrime legislation.

And we must provide international assistance to sustain their enhancements in infrastructure and law enforcement. This has to be a two-way street. Other nations must partner with us to end cybercrime.

When it comes to cybersecurity, Americans must lead the fight. The tools used to steal a person's identity and a company's trade secrets by criminals today can and will be used by terrorists in the future to attack and erode our infrastructure and defense systems.

The stakes are too high and the risks are too grave to delay. If we don't improve international cooperation, safe havens will continue to flourish, and our economy, security and people will be under threat. This is a fight we must win.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand serves on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

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