Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., a member of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission that is set to release recommendations March 11 on how to better defend the U.S. against cyber threats, said today the commission hopes to spark quick action by Congress on at least some of those recommendations.

Speaking at an event organized by Axios, Rep. Gallagher and Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, who co-chairs the commission, said the recommendations will include plenty for Congress to consider, and hopefully to move on quickly. The commission’s report will feature a total of 75 recommendations, but in several recent public events the group’s members have spoken of them only in generalities.

“Our goal is to shape not only strategic debate” on better protecting the U.S. against cyber attacks, “but to convince our colleagues to pass legislation in the short term,” Rep. Gallagher said today. “We didn’t want to write a report that gathers dust,” he added.

“This is less of a report, and more of a blueprint, an action plan,” said Sen. King.

Based on commission members’ comments over the past few weeks, it’s very likely the report will include recommendations about what the U.S. should do to create deterrence strategies that will decrease attackers’ appetite for attacks. “We are suffering a death by a thousand cuts because we are not imposing costs” on our enemies engaged in cyber attacks, Sen. King said.  “That is something that is going to take executive branch leadership,” he said.

The report also will feature a recommendation to reorganize the Federal government’s approach to cyber defense, Rep. Gallagher indicated. “We will be proposing one of the most fundamental realignments of the Federal government” since the September 2001 terrorist attacks that created the Department of Homeland Security, he said.

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“Right now, cyber is scattered all over the government,” said Sen. King. “We are not trying to build a whole lot of new bureaucracy . . . but trying to create more structure,” he said.

Rep. Gallagher indicated the report will deal with the current disparate jurisdictional and oversight structure of cybersecurity issues in Congress, but was short on specifics.

Sen. King sounded a note of urgency for action in his comments today. “If the [cyber] threat today is X, then the threat in five years is five times X” because of projected increases in the use of internet of things devices and autonomous driving technologies, the senator said. “So the threat is very real, and getting more serious,” he said.


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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.