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Does the U.S. Need a Cabinet-Level Department of Cybersecurity?


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Does the U.S. need federal cyberprotection?

Some argue the growing threat of cyberattack requires the creation of a new cabinet-level department of cybersecurity; others warn that attempting to consolidate all cybersecurity responsibilities in a single agency would make matters worse.

Credit: Delcan & Company

The roster of U.S. cabinet-level departments has grown over the decades in response to one pressing need or another. Most recently, the Department of Homeland Security was formed in 2002 in response to the attacks on the U.S. of Sept. 11, 2001. Another relative newcomer is the Energy Department, formed in 1977 in the wake of the energy crisis caused by the imposition of an oil embargo on the U.S. earlier in the decade by the Arab members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Today, the U.S. faces a growing threat from cyberattacks, including a surge in recent years in attacks that have been traced to foreign governments and other hostile entities abroad. The danger of the country's critical infrastructure being crippled by a cyberattack has grown as hackers continue to hone their abilities to infiltrate computer systems.

Some argue that this threat calls for the creation of a new cabinet-level department to coordinate the country's efforts to respond to a steady stream of attacks and prevent as many attacks as possible. The current government approach to cybersecurity, which spreads responsibility among several agencies, is inefficient and inadequate, according to this argument.

But others warn that attempting to consolidate all cybersecurity responsibilities in a single agency would only make matters worse. Far from creating cohesion and efficiency, they argue, it would diminish the effectiveness of current cybersecurity efforts, which are deeply woven into the operations of a number of government agencies. Greater coordination and stronger leadership are needed, they say, but not a new cabinet agency.

 

From The Wall Street Journal
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