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Cybersecurity: Critical Industry

The Internet is a tremendous catalyst for economic growth and provides for easy access to information. It is already an essential tool that we would find impossible to live without. As we become more dependent upon this interconnectivity, we are increasingly more vulnerable. Virginia’s leaders on both sides of the aisle recognize the critical importance of a strong cybersecurity policy.

Our Commonwealth’s continued leadership in the field of cybersecurity is an essential element of our mission to build a new Virginia economy. That is why Gov. Terry McAuliffe has made this sector a high priority, establishing a strong cybersecurity ecosystem in Virginia.

Virginia was the first state to adopt the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cybersecurity framework and the Governor signed seven related bills into law, founded the innovative Scholarship for Service program and launched the Virginia Cyber Range, establishing a pattern of bipartisan support for these efforts and solidifying Virginia’s status as a national leader in cutting-edge policy.

Effective cybersecurity policy requires close coordination between all levels of government and private industry. Gov. McAuliffe’s initiative is a critical step toward building the environment for that cooperation, developing concrete solutions and implementing actual policies.

This is a fantastic field for our students to study. There are more than 17,000 open cybersecurity jobs in Virginia, paying an average starting salary of $88,000. The average certified professional salary can start at $93,010.

Cyber attacks have been growing in frequency and sophistication, which can cause physical and economic harm to existing systems. Between January and May 2016, there were nearly 54 million attack attempts (four per second), 354 million spam messages blocked, 42,000 pieces of malware blocked and 131 attack attempts that became cybersecurity incidents.

Cybersecurity is not a temporary challenge to businesses, schools and government. Even citizens here in the 44th district are at risk in this interconnected world in which we live, work and play. The Internet allows for amazing efficiencies, especially in communications and research.

However, with this connectivity and new technology comes new vulnerabilities that target our smart phones, tablets and even car computers, listening aids and toys. We all have had to delete phishing emails that could infiltrate our computers with embedded viruses that could steal our very identities. On the macro level, our national security is at risk if we don’t find ways to defend our country in cyberspace. In Virginia, cybersecurity is our priority.

I support continued investment in cybersecurity, which is critical for a safe, digital economy.

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