August 18, 2015
SOUTH PORTLAND, ME – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) partnered with the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to host a briefing at Texas Instruments in South Portland that provided information to Maine businesses on how they can better protect themselves from cyber-attacks.
More than 100 people attended the briefing from an array of Maine businesses, industry associations, area utilities, and education institutions. The businesses and organizations represented included credit unions, small banks, insurance providers, community colleges, and various small businesses. The briefing featured remarks from Senator King, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Maine State Chamber of Commerce President Dana Connors, and DHS Assistant Secretary for the Private Sector José Raúl Perales, as well as a presentation on cyber-security best practices from DHS New England Cyber-Security Advisor Mike Leking.
“Cyber-attacks and data breaches are some of the most serious threats we face today – not just to our national security, but to our economic security as well. And businesses in Maine can’t simply wait around hoping that Congress will finally come to its senses and pass cyber-security legislation to help them out,” Senator King said. “Maine businesses need – and deserve – the most up-to-date information and know-how so they can defend themselves in today’s increasingly hostile cyber-environment, and thanks to the briefing today, they are now armed with some of that critical knowledge. But this is an ongoing battle, and it’s one that’s going to take an effective public-private sector partnership to help win, which is why I will continue to press my colleagues to pass comprehensive cyber-security legislation that promotes information sharing and bolsters cyber-defenses.”
“Maine is home to some of the best and most innovative businesses in the country, but they recognize that, like everyone else, they’re not immune to the threat of a cyber-attack. In fact, in today’s globally-connected and highly-competitive economy, it’s just another reality of doing business,” said Dana Connors, President of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. “That’s why they take that threat seriously and do everything they can to protect and defend themselves, and their customers. Today’s briefing helped give them the tools they need to strengthen their cyber-defenses so they can focus on doing what they do best: creating jobs and building a bright economic future for the State of Maine.”
“In today’s environment, businesses, more than ever, must prepare to defend against the myriad of security threats; both natural disasters and man made threats,” DHS Assistant Secretary Perales said. “Private industries ability to respond to these threats head on is a key to keeping America safe and secure. Government, industry, and citizens all have a role to play, and we should work together. We must leverage the private sector to help build resilient communities, create unity of effort in our incident response, and ensure resilience to disasters. In cybersecurity, a first step is that owners of critical information and infrastructure, whether government or industry, can work together to implement cyber practices.”
Senator King’s staff has spoken with a variety of Maine businesses within the health, defense, financial, education, and consumer products sectors, almost all of which expressed serious concern about cyber-security or had even experienced some type of cyber-intrusion. In fact, according to a recent report by McAfee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the annual cost to the global economy from cyber-crime is more than $445 billion with losses that could translate into more than 200,000 jobs lost in the U.S.
As a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senator King has highlighted the danger that cyber-attacks pose to America’s businesses and has repeatedly called for Congress to pass federal cyber-security legislation. In the absence of federal legislation, however, there are steps that businesses can take on their own to better protect themselves against cyber-attacks, including information sharing measures, which were discussed at the briefing.
DHS officials discussed the Critical Infrastructure Cyber Community, or C³, Voluntary Program, which was launched by the Department in February 2014 to help improve the resiliency of critical infrastructure’s cybersecurity systems. Specifically, the program helps sectors and organizations that want to use the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cybersecurity Framework by connecting them to existing cyber risk management capabilities provided by DHS, other U.S. Government organizations, and the private sector.
In March 2015, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence passed the Cyber Information Sharing Act of 2015 (CISA) by a strong bipartisan vote of 14 to 1 with Senator King’s support. The bill authorizes private companies to share cyber threat information with one another and the U.S. government on a purely voluntary basis; authorizes companies to monitor their computer networks and implement defensive measures to counter threats; provides liability protection for the sharing of cyber information for cyber-security purposes; and provides protections to ensure that sharing of cyber information does not allow for privacy intrusions. The Senate is expected to vote on the legislation sometime later this year.