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March 27, 2019

King Presses Navy Leader to Ensure Subcontractors Guard Against Cyber Attacks

“I hope you can put the fear of God into some of these people, and not just rely on the ‘big guys’ having good security.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) emphasized the responsibility of the Navy to ensure its contractors and subcontractors take adequate precautions to defend themselves against cyber attack. Senator King’s questioning comes on the heels of recent reports that the Navy’s industry partners are being targeted by foreign cyber attacks, who use these systems to access classified information. Today’s comments came during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower, which featured Assistant Secretary of the Navy James Geurts as a witness.

“By virtue of my service on several other committees I just want to share something that I think is a rising problem that I think could be very important, and that is – cyberattacks through [subcontractors],” said Senator King. “We’re seeing that in the utility field, we’re seeing that also in military. I hope it’s something you can really have some urgency on…I hope you can put the fear of God into some of these people, and not just rely on the ‘big guys’ having good security, but the [subcontractors] that have access into their system.”

Senator King is known in the Senate as an outspoken advocate for cybersecurity and has pressed top leaders across a variety of sectors on the steps they are taking to deter and prevent attacks. Earlier this month, Senator King urged General Stephen Lyons of the U.S. Transportation Command for ways to improve the cybersecurity of the military’s private sector partners. In February, Senator King took part in a Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) hearing on cybersecurity where he emphasized the need for urgent action, questioned James Robb, President and CEO of North American Energy Reliability Corporation, about the dangers of foreign equipment in America’s energy grid, and urged Mr. Robb to recommend red teams to America’s utilities.

Later in the hearing, Senator King requested updates on various submarines and missile destroyer ships such as the Columbia-class submarine and the Flight III DDG. He also stressed the importance of maintenance, and sea-readiness for the safety and upkeep of sea vessels. Senator King asked about the timing of future large surface combatants, and where the projects currently stand. At the close of his questioning, he followed up by asking what percentage of the Navy’s budget was ‘Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) for-base’, a topic he pressed Secretary of the Army Mark Esper in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday.

As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senator King is recognized as a thoughtful voice on national security and foreign policy issues in the Senate. In addition to his committee work, he serves on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, the Senate North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Observer Group, and the Cyberspace Solarium Commission.

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