Evil activity online could be more dangerous than transnational terrorists, warns FBI Director Robert Mueller. Speaking before the RSA Cyber Security Conference last Thursday, he declared that cybersecurity is becoming a top concern.
The FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Defense need to get cyberserious. Protecting netizens’ ability to transit cyberspace is as big a deal as safeguarding the freedom of the seas. Battling online evildoers has become an integral component of providing for the common defense.
But just as undermining the liberties of Americans isn’t the right way to battle terrorism, putting a straightjacket on the Internet is the wrong approach for making the nation safer online. When Washington acts in our interest, it ought to deliver answers that enhance our security, freedoms, and prosperity in equal measure.
Congress has been mulling over cybersecurity legislation. Right now there are more proposals out there than American Idol finalists. Sorting through them is like tap dancing through a minefield, as they are laced with proposals to further regulate the Internet. These are, for the most part, very bad ideas.
There is a simple five-step plan that government can do to make us cybersafe:
1) Encourage effective information sharing in the private sector and between the private sector and government,
2) Encourage citizens act responsibly online,
3) Act responsibly in its own information technology practices,
4) Get cyberserious about battling bad actors online, and
5) Think about how to safeguard the physical infrastructure (such as the electrical grid) that allows us all to cruise the Internet.
None of these tasks requires turning cyberspace into the government’s space.