Opening Remarks of Ranking Member Stefanik

Sep 10, 2019
Opening Statement
Securing the Nation's Internet Architecture

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities, made the following remarks, as prepared for delivery, before the Subcommittee's joint hearing with the Oversight and Reform Committee on "Securing the Nation's Internet Architecture."

"Thank you, Jim. 

"I want to start by thanking both Chairman Langevin and Chairman Lynch for holding such an important and cross-cutting hearing topic. 

"And we are fortunate that we are joined by such an excellent interagency panel of government witnesses to guide us today. 

"Ms. Manfra, it is great to see you again before this committee. When last we talked it was regarding election security – and I am pleased that today’s topic will span many of the other important missions of your organization, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA. 

"Ms. Rinaldo, given the important role that NTIA plays, we are fortunate to have you here as well. And since you are a former Professional Staff Member with the House Intelligence Committee, we can also say “welcome home.” 

"And Mr. Wilson – it always great to see you back before this committee. We look forward to hearing how the Department of Defense supports these agencies and our broader national security objectives. 

"As we look to further improve the security of our Nation’s Internet Architecture, we should remind ourselves of the urgency of this task. 

"First, the physical enormity of the topic and related challenges are worth mentioning. The world’s internet architecture and by extension our domestic infrastructure is highly integrated, with varying levels of resiliency and redundancy. In some cases there are international norms, although laws and policies often vary by country, and by sector. There are many points of failure in this physical internet, and it remains so contested and complex that even risk managers lack full awareness on how to identify and mitigate threats or weaknesses. 

"Second, our own Intelligence Community provides sobering assessments on adversarial use and exploitation of the internet. The Director of National Intelligence in the most recent Worldwide Threat Assessment has noted that: 

“'Our adversaries and strategic competitors will increasingly use cyber capabilities – including cyber espionage, attack, and influence – to seek political, economic, and military advantage over the United States and its allies and partners.'

"And the physical internet architecture we will talk about today is the highway upon which these adversaries travel. 

"So, what is crystal clear going into today’s hearing is that our adversaries understand our vulnerabilities, and will not hesitate to exploit these weaknesses to further their strategic and economic objectives. 

"We are no longer peerless, and security is not assured. 

"In fact, we see these same adversaries – most notably China and Russia - adapting to and learning from our own weaknesses by building what amounts to their own, state-controlled internet architecture to monitor, control, and influence their own populations. These very same controls will make it harder for us to preserve and protect geopolitical, offensive, and strategic options for our nation and our economy. 

"As I have said many times before, cyber threats from state and non-state adversaries are real, pervasive, and growing. They leverage and integrate cyber, information, and communications technologies for geopolitical and economic gain in a seamless way. 

"Yet while these adversaries continue to use the internet as a means to achieve strategic objectives, I remain concerned that we – as a nation – do not yet have a strategy in place to mitigate, deter or oppose their advances. 

"This is particularly true regarding the security of our physical internet architecture, the topic for today’s timely hearing. 

"Although not the lead agency on this topic, I am pleased that the Department of Defense is represented at the table today since they play an important role in this area – not the least of which may be providing expertise to other agencies during sensitive national emergencies. 

"We all know that Department of Defense research played a central role in the development of today’s internet through the creation of the ARPANET. 

"And today, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, continues to advance our national security through projects related to the resiliency of our Nation’s internet architecture and various other sectors, such as the electrical grid, through their Information Innovation Office. 

"In the oversight we have conducted as the Armed Services Committee, I feel confident saying that we have improved our military cyberspace and information warfare capabilities, and also improved our resiliency in many areas. 

"And while a great deal of broader interagency cooperation and coordination has taken place over the past few years, much work remains to be done in securing our nation’s internet architecture and related sectors to ensure we remain fast, agile and resilient even during times of crisis. 

"And although today’s panel is comprised of government experts, we should not forget about the important role that the private sector and Defense innovation and industrial bases play, so that we develop a truly whole-of-nation strategy to understand and mitigate these vulnerabilities. 

"Only then will our Nation be prepared for the 21st century challenges we face. 

"Our witnesses before us are very well qualified to help us navigate these multidimensional problems, and I thank them for being here today. 

"Thank you again to our Chairmen for holding this hearing, and with that, I yield back." 

116th Congress