On Nov. 16, the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology along with the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, held a joint hearing titled, “Understanding the Role of Connected Devices in Recent Cyber Attacks.” The hearing addressed the distributed denial-of-service cyberattack that occurred Oct. 21 and continued the Committee’s series on emerging technologies.
- Dale Drew, senior vice president, chief security officer, Level 3 Communications
- Dr. Kevin Fu, CEO, Virta Labs, and associate professor, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of Michigan
- Bruce Schneier, adjunct lecturer, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and Fellow
During the hearing, members and witnesses alike discussed the opportunities and threats posed by connected devices. Schneier reminded the committee that the term “computer security” now equates to “everything security.” He also warned against the inclination of issuing one-size-fits-all legislation. Schneier said, “If we want to secure our increasingly computerized and connected world, we need more government involvement in the security of the ‘Internet of Things’ and increased regulation of what are now critical and life-threatening technologies. It’s no longer a question of if, it’s a question of when…The Internet now affects the world in a direct physical manner. The Internet of Things is bringing computerization and connectivity to many tens of millions of devices worldwide. We are connecting cars, drones, medical devices and home thermostats. What was once benign is now dangerous.”
Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., ranking member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee agreed with Schneier and said, “The Internet of Things offers great potential for innovation but recent attacks raise troubling questions about the security of Internet-enabled devices and their potential to be used as weapons by cyber attackers.” Eshoo also suggested incorporating cybersecurity guidance into national infrastructure legislation.
Despite differing opinions on the methodology, members from both parties agreed that the security of connected devices must remain a priority. Members and witnesses were largely in agreement about the need for targeted security regulation. However, Republican members of the subcommittees stopped short of endorsing a new, dedicated agency.
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