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March 01, 2018

In Senate Hearings, King Continues Push for Cyber Strategy

In both Armed Services and Energy & Natural Resources, King highlights importance of a doctrine of deterrence for cyber attacks

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) continued his push for a national policy of cyber deterrence in two Senate hearings. He first spoke during a nomination hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee, and directed his comments toward Lieutenant General Paul Nakasone, the nominee for Director of the National Security Agency and Commander of U.S. Cyber Command. Senator King then continued his push during a hearing in the Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee focused on cyber security and the resiliency of our critical energy infrastructure.

“We are either at war now or at the brink of war, and the war is in cyber,” said Senator King during the Armed Services hearing. “And it’s a multi-front war, and it’s a complex war, and as my colleagues have pointed out, we don’t have a strategy for dealing with that war, and especially we don’t have a strategy for deterring that war…We’ve got to confront this issue, and this isn’t a criticism of the current Administration, the prior Administration did not confront it either…We are under attack, and our adversaries feel no consequences. They fear no results, they fear no response. And until we deal with that, we’re going to continue to be under attack, and what concerns me is that the attacks are going to escalate.”

“The problem here…is that this country lacks a coherent strategy of deterrence in the cyber realm, “Senator King added in the ENR hearing. “…We have no deterrent policy, our adversaries feel there is no cost to their attacking us in a variety of ways, large and small…we can’t simply rely on defensive measures. We can’t keep patching software. Ultimately, people who are making a calculation as to whether to attack us have to believe there will be a response, whether in the cyber field, or sections, or some other area…”

Senator King has been a leading voice on the need for a national emphasis on cyber deterrence, and has repeatedly pressed officials in both the Obama and Trump Administrations on the importance of deterrence. This week, he questioned Admiral Mike Rogers, the current Director of the National Security Agency and Commander of U.S. Cyber Command, on the status of a report from the Secretary of Defense that was mandated by a King-led provision in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act and is currently eight months past due. In addition, he questioned top national intelligence officials last month on the lack of a national doctrine on the subject.

Senator King has also worked to address the issue through legislation, including introducing the Securing Energy Infrastructure Act with Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), his colleague on both the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Senate Intelligence Committee. The bill, which was lauded by a witness during his ENR questioning, aims to protect America’s electric grid from cyber-attacks by implementing “retro” manual features and other solutions so that it cannot be accessed remotely.

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