Washington, D.C.—At a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on the nomination of Rep. Mike Pompeo to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Committee, questioned Rep. Pompeo on the issue of cyber threats. Senator Collins has long worked to address this danger to our nation’s safety and security.
During the hearing, Senator Collins cited a 2015 public memo by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense, which revealed that the Department of Defense is subjected to 100,000 attempted cyberattacks each day—or 3 million per month. While not all of these attacks are successful, the sheer volume of attacks by nations, terrorist groups, hackers, and international criminal gangs underscore the scope of this burgeoning threat.
“The recent focus on the cyber intrusion in the campaigns has greatly increased the public's awareness of this problem. But the fact is cyber intrusions go far beyond the political space, troubling and appalling though that is,” said Senator Collins. “How would you assess our preparedness in the cyber domain?”
In response, Rep. Pompeo acknowledged the need for Congress and the next administration to work together to strengthen our nation’s cyber security, and he recognized Senator Collins’ efforts on this issue.
“Senator, we've got lots of work to do,” Rep. Pompeo responded. “I know you've done a great deal of work in making sure that the national infrastructure, including its private sector infrastructure, has the capacity to do what it needs to keep not only business issues in the place that they need to be…but [also] private companies that have important information about America’s national security activities.”
“There is no reason to expect that this threat is going to diminish, and that will take a whole government effort to do that, shared by the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch, to achieve better cybersecurity for the national infrastructure as well,” Rep. Pompeo continued.
Last year Senator Collins authored a provision for the Fiscal Year 2017 Intelligence Authorization Act that would require the Intelligence Community to participate in a voluntary program to provide assistance and support to the critical infrastructure entities at greatest risk of cyber attack. In addition, in 2012, Senator Collins and then-Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) introduced a cybersecurity bill that would have helped secure computer systems that oversee critical infrastructure.
To watch Senator Collins' Q&A with CIA director nominee Pompeo, click HERE