WASHINGTON— U.S. Rep. John Katko (NY-24), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, joined CNBC’s Squawk Box to preview today’s full committee hearing on the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack. Katko reiterated that cybersecurity is a pre-eminent national security issue and government and industry must work together to prevent future attacks.
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Understanding What’s At Stake: “Our systems are vulnerable and we are not doing enough to fight back. We need to do a much better job in this country of preparing for cyber attacks and anticipating what can happen and be ready for it. … This hearing today is intended to make sure people understand what’s at stake here and we all need to act accordingly.”
Investing In Cybersecurity: “There’s no question that best practices are critically important in the private sector, but also in the government. Let’s start with the private sector. You need to invest in cybersecurity. That’s going to cost money. We don’t know how much Colonial Pipeline invested in actual cybersecurity, but every company in this nation probably does not invest enough. On the government side, we’ve got to do the same. The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is completely overwhelmed trying to deal with ransomware attacks and cyber attacks. Colonial Pipeline is one of the latest in a long line of those. We need to make sure CISA is properly beefed up.”
Preparing For Attacks: “We also need to make sure the Biden Administration and subsequent Administrations have cybersecurity infrastructure plans in place, so they can anticipate attacks and have a plan in place for when critical infrastructure is attacked – much like we did in the Cold War. We have to have the same type of security plan ready for cyber attacks and ransomware attacks.”
Whacking The Bad Guys: “I have what I call the five pillars, and the fifth pillar is basically whacking the bad guys. The Colonial Pipeline attack emanated from Russia. We know that. I find it very hard to believe that the Russian government didn’t at least know about this entity doing this because it was a very sophisticated attack. For that, they should be severely punished. President Biden has an opportunity next week to lay down the law when he meets with Vladimir Putin.”
Following The Money: “Cryptocurrency has been a game changer for the criminal element. I was a federal organized crime prosecutor for 20 years. The hardest thing for criminals to do was to spend their money to hide the money that they made from their illicit activities. I applaud the FBI because they were able to chase the cryptocurrency trail probably for one of the first times on this Colonial Pipeline attack and get that money back. That needs to be the norm, not the exception, and we need to be able to do that going forward.”