By ANTHONY aRUSSO
KINGSTON - Rhode Island Second District Rep. Jim Langevin has been very vocal on all topics concerning the nation’s cybersecurity and where it is headed. Langevin, who is co-founder of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, recently criticized republican senators for their efforts to block the Cybersecuity Act of 2012, which barley failed to secure the Senate’s two-thirds majority on Aug. 2.
On Tuesday, however, Langevin offered a more positive and more local take on the issue of cybersecurity. The representative commended URI for receiving a $502,097 grant from the National Science Foundation to enhance education opportunities in computer network security at the high school and college levels. The funds will allow URI to create software that better educates and tests students’ cybersecurity skills under the direction of Professor Victor Fay-Wolfe, who heads the Digital Forensics and Cyber Security Center.
In his praise for the university, Langevin noted the commitment to cybersecurity by Prof. Fay-Wolfe, University President David Dooley, and Vice President of Research and Economic Development Dr. Peter Alfonso.
“No matter how we act to strengthen network security policies, we cannot have effective cybersecurity without a highly skilled workforce, and right now there is a significant shortage of qualified professional, “Langevin said, “The University of Rhode Island, under the outstanding leadership of President Dooley, Dr. Alfonso, and Professor Wolfe, is setting a national standard in cyber education and giving Rhode Island an opportunity to excel in the field. This grant will take advantage of the expertise at the Digital Forensics and Cyber Security Center to improve cyber training across the nation.”
According to Langevin’s office, the congressman has made it a priority to ensure Rhode Island has the chance to capitalize on a rapidly growing field that can create jobs locally, while also meeting an urgent national security need.
The need, according to Langevin, was undermined by a group of senators who helped derail the Cybersecurity Act of 2012. The act was meant to establish methods to prevent and deter large-scale cyber attacks against areas of the American infrastructure, including water supplies and the electrical grid, and was strongly endorsed by military and national security officials.
Langevin continued to say that the most senior and respected American security officials have warned lawmakers on the vulnerability that the nation faces and the major economic and physical damage that could occur if that vulnerability, which is centered around the critical infrastructure networks, is not addressed.
With recent news of URI’s grant, Langevin has expressed that taking advantage of professional training for young minds in a rapidly growing field is another reason for his support of cybersecurity efforts.
“Opponents of legislation would have us believe that industry will act voluntarily to secure infrastructure, but the facts say otherwise,” Langevin said. “For years, the owners of our key infrastructures have had the opportunity to act, but far too many have proven unwilling to bear the costs, preferring to take the chance that they won’t be the ones that get hit.”
“They prefer to ignore the devastating consequences of a successful cyber attack, putting the profits of a small group of companies ahead of the public’s safety.” he added. “Yet, if and when the attack occurs, the unfortunate reality is that it will be the American taxpayer who will be left to deal with the aftermath and foot the bill.”