Leading a discussion on cybersecurity with students in Salve Regina’s Graduate Program in Administration of Justice and Homeland Security on Thursday night, Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) outlined the increasing security challenges we face in cyberspace. As a co-founder of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus and a leader in the effort to increase awareness of cyber threats among the public and on Capitol Hill, Langevin said recent hacks of financial institutions and other attacks making front page headlines are only the tip of the iceberg.
“Cyber threats are everywhere,” said Langevin, who was visiting a cyber threat management class at Salve Regina University’s Center for Adult Education in Warwick. “I am most concerned about the vulnerability of our most valuable infrastructure, such as the electric grid and water plants, and we are fortunate a potentially devastating attack on one of these entities has not already occurred. However, it is unquestioned that identity theft, industrial espionage and other more insidious attacks are happening on a massive scale every day.”
Langevin has pressed for legislation to require the owners and operators of critical infrastructure to meet minimum security standards and to more efficiently facilitate the sharing of cyber threat information between the public and private sector, so everyone is better prepared to prevent attacks and respond to them.
Recognizing the national shortage of the highly qualified workers needed to strengthen our cybersecurity, Langevin stressed that we have an opportunity to create quality jobs in Rhode Island if the state continues to build on efforts, such as those at Salve, to train a skilled workforce in the field. He wants to ensure there is an educational pipeline for students to pursue the field. As part of developing a cyber workforce, the congressman launched the statewide Cyber Foundations Competition that introduces high school students to cybersecurity as a possible career and helps them acquire basic skills.
“Whether in the military, in the government, or in the private sector, there is a severe shortage of network security specialists. And whatever the result of our policy discussions and legislative debates down in Washington, D.C., at the end of the day, it comes down to having the right people, at the right time, with the right leadership.”