- The Washington Times - Friday, March 17, 2017

The federal government should adopt a policy clearly defining what constitutes an act of cyberwar, lawmakers in the House said Thursday.

Reps. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Maryland Democrat, and Scott Taylor, Virginia Republican, proposed a resolution Thursday calling on Washington to once and for all adopt a clear and comprehensive policy concerning the nation’s cybersecurity, particularly with respect to waging and responding to sophisticated cyberattacks.

“No longer does war take place on land, at sea, in the skies or in space — it’s about time we recognize that cyberspace is the battlefield of the 21st century,” Mr. Ruppersberger said.

“Every day, terrorists, organized criminals even state actors such as Iran and North Korea are honing their cyber skills, threatening our critical infrastructure, safety and economy,” he said. “It’s not ‘if’ an attack occurs, but ‘when,’ and we must have a clear and comprehensive cyber strategy in place when that day arrives.”

In the face of frequent cyberattacks and data breaches, the bipartisan resolution states that the U.S. “should develop and adopt a comprehensive cybersecurity policy that clearly defines acts of aggression, acts of war and other related events in cyberspace, including any commensurate responses to any such act or event in cyberspace.”

Nine separate “megabreaches” occurred in 2015, the congressmen noted, each one compromising the personal information of more than 10 million individuals. Coupled with the “increasing interconnectedness” of modern society, the resolution’s authors warn that a comprehensive policy must be adopted to safeguard the nation from “significant and persistent risk of cyber attack.”

“The cyber world has been the Wild West for too long,” Mr. Taylor said in a statement. “Our nation must keep up with the ever-changing landscape to protect our citizens, our critical infrastructure, and our nation from being put at risk or attacked.”

The White House said earlier this year that President Trump has made it a priority to develop “defensive and offensive” cyber capabilities. He was slated to sign a thorough cybersecurity executive order last month, but has so far failed to follow through.

Legislation signed into law last year, meanwhile, gives the Trump administration one year to define what constitutes an act of cyberwar, The Hill reported this month.

Thursday’s resolution, H.R. 200, was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, according to congressional records.

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