While images of Putin’s horrific attacks on Ukrainian civilians are captivating the world, he and other malicious agents are quietly preparing for assaults we cannot see: cyber warfare on a catastrophic, worldwide scale. Last year we saw the Colonial Pipeline shut down from a cyberattack and American hospitals shut down by ransomware. This is just a glimpse of the damage and suffering successful cyberattacks can inflict.
While America’s standing as the world’s technology and innovation leader has positioned us to minimize such cyberattacks thus far, the Biden administration – much like they did with our energy independence – is weakening our cyber strength and independence. In 2022, cyber independence, much like energy independence, is critical to defending freedom and democracy. Forfeiting our dominance in this arena comes at great peril both at home and around the world.
Since the day he took office, President Biden and Congressional Democrats have undermined our energy and cyber independence, appointing agency heads and enacting executive orders designed to undermine America’s businesses.
From day one, the President damaged America’s energy independence by shutting down oil production and canning the Keystone pipeline – these actions resulted in giving away our energy independence. This made America more dependent on authoritarian leaders and terrorist nations like Venezuela and Iran for energy, and less capable to help allies overcome energy needs by cutting ties with Vladimir Putin. Ultimately, these actions made America less able to stop Putin’s war in Ukraine.
Biden’s unprecedented executive order to purportedly promote “competition” by recommending his administration break up America’s most successful businesses, created an environment that impedes the ability of American businesses to grow and expand.
This anti-business posture has undermined mergers and acquisitions that would have made us more secure. First, the Administration challenged Lockheed Martin’s efforts to acquire missile defense technology that would increase our national safety. Then, Biden’s efforts forced American computer chip maker Nvidia to abandon an acquisition that would enable the company to increase chip production at a time when we are woefully undersupplied and dangerously reliant on Chinese manufacturing. In sum, this administration’s actions amount to an offensive against private sector businesses – and it’s undermining the safety and security of the United States.
The FBI is now reporting that Putin is turning his cyber-sights on US energy and financial institutions. As such, we need strong cyber security capabilities more than ever to keep up with increasingly sophisticated attacks. The Colonial Pipeline and FIN12 attacks on American hospitals are just a taste of the damage cyber weapons can inflict here at home if our technology companies aren’t allowed the conditions they need to innovate and adapt to increasingly sophisticated threats. The Biden Administration is preventing businesses from protecting themselves from these threats.
Biden’s Department of Justice announced support for Democratic legislation without realizing that it would limit America’s technology businesses from stopping malware and forces America’s leading technology businesses to create a backdoor for cyber attackers. This proposed legislation from Democratic Presidential hopeful Senator Amy Klobuchar touts the legislation’s goal as “interoperability.”
While this sounds good, interoperability is precisely how a university researcher helped Cambridge Analytica breach the private data of millions of Facebook users. Under Sen. Klobuchar’s legislation, which is supported by Biden’s DOJ, our businesses couldn’t block Chinese, Russian, and Iranian services from exploiting this new law to gain access to Facebook, Instagram, Amazon marketplace, the App Store, and Google. And at the same time, top progressives in Congress like Sen. Blumenthal, in an attempt to make it easier for government to access our phones, are pushing legislation designed to annihilate end-to-end encryption – simultaneously undermining the very tools on which good cybersecurity is built.
These actions will make us less secure, not more.
Leading up to the invasion, America’s tech businesses empowered users to better secure their devices and services with regular security checks, two-factor authorization, and more. At the same time, the backend infrastructure is constantly being further hardened against cyber-attacks. This is why the American private sector leads the world in cybersecurity – it can move at the speed of innovation and not at the speed of government.
This administration and its supporters must recognize that America leads the world in technological prowess because of our private sector companies. It must empower, not eviscerate, their ability to innovate and adapt. Competing nations and cyber criminals will not stop improving, and America’s technological capabilities must grow faster than these nefarious actors. That means Biden must foster progress and innovation for all American industries. America’s world standing is at risk, and we must not abandon our technological standing on the world stage – now more than ever.
Carl Szabo is Vice President and General Counsel for NetChoice; and Professor of Internet Law at the George Mason Antonin Scalia Law School