(Washington, DC) Mike Rogers (R-MI), House Intelligence Committee Chairman, today amped up the rhetoric on cybersecurity by out-and-out declaring that the U.S. is in a cyberwar. "We're in a cyberwar, make no mistake about it," he told attendees at the annual winter meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) here. "We are in a cyberwar and we're losing," he said.
Rogers said that the government, particularly the National Security Agency (NSA), does a good job of protecting government infrastructure, but that government infrastructure is a small slice of the national security pie. "When you get over there [at the NSA] you see some big-brained cybersecurity work. But that's only five percent of networks across America. There is no government that doesn't use private networks."
He addressed the issue of Iran as a major cybersecurity threat. "What about countries like Iran? Would they make a non-rational decision. I argue absolutely. Look at what they did to the Saudi Arabian oil company Aramco. They actually broke the machines...you don't get to go reboot" something like that, Rogers said.
Rogers also said that the recent spate of announcements by American newspapers, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, that they have been hacked is a strangely positive development from the perspective of awakening the public to the threat of cyberattacks. "In an odd way, the newspapers that came out and said they'd been hacked is a good thing."
The White House, for its part, still plans to issue an executive order, Dr. Andy Ozment, Senior Director for Cyber Security at the White House, told the NARUC audience, stressing, however, the continued need for the Congress to pass a cybersecurity bill. "A cyber EO [executive order] would be a downpayment for legislation, not a substitute on it," Ozment said because of the many cybersecurity fixes that an EO can't reach.
Whatever cyber EO the White House issues, it will emphasis the need for not only information-sharing, but also collaboration. "We will be very clear about how we will foster engagement. If we don't have you all at the table, we're lost before we're begun," he said.
Correction: An earlier version of this post misidentified Mike Roger's state and committee title.