Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) is working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to make Washington develop a real strategy for dealing with cyberthreats. Ahead of this year’s National Defense Authorization Act revision (the annual bill that frames Congress’s defense priorities), Sasse made it clear that officials in Washington need to get serious about cybersecurity.
Sasse is part of a group of lawmakers from the Armed Services Committee who got language included in the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act requiring the administration to develop a cyberwar doctrine to respond to digital attacks. This administration and its predecessor have failed to create a comprehensive strategy to ward off growing cyberthreats from nation-states and other sophisticated actors, he and other lawmakers say.
“We don’t have clear cyber doctrines, but China and Russia do,” Sasse told me. “Decade after decade, hack after hack, administration after administration, our adversaries get more aggressive while Washington sits on the sidelines.”
In addition to requiring the administration to “plan, develop and demonstrate” options for countering attacks, the provision also says it should “demonstrate, or otherwise make known to adversaries the existence of, cyber capabilities to impose costs on any foreign power targeting the United States.” Another measure, written by Sasse, would create a bipartisan national commission of administration officials and experts chosen by Congress to recommend ways to strengthen the United States’ posture in cyberspace.