The Register's Aug. 8 editorial ["Let cybersecurity bill stay dead"] trivializes the danger of a cyberattack as a "supposed" threat that can be mitigated with antivirus software.
As chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I know the threat of a cyber attack is far more serious and represents a growing threat to our economy and national security.
Consider this: In the five months between October 2011 and February 2012, more than 50,000 cyber attacks were reported; 86 of those attacks were directed at critical infrastructure, the networks that control American power plants, dams, transportation hubs and financial networks.
And those are just the cyber attacks that were reported. Many are not.
We know that China and Russia—as well as terrorist organizations—have hacked into American networks, infiltrated the Pentagon's classified systems, stolen intellectual property and committed other acts of industrial espionage. Google, international banks, NASDAQ, NASA, large security firms and countless other networks have been attacked.
The comprehensive cybersecurity bill that stalled this month in the Senate was a three-year, bipartisan effort to increase the cyber defenses of our critical infrastructure.
This wasn't a "top-down approach from Washington," but a common-sense plan to reduce the legal barriers that currently hamper a private entity's willingness to work with the government and share cybersecurity information about evolving threats to our networks.
Finally, the bill included aggressive safeguards to protect privacy and the content of personal communications.
The reality is that cyber attacks happen every day—against our government, our industry and our critical infrastructure. The threat is real, and it is growing.
The Senate produced a strong bill that was a critical first step to stopping cyber attacks. For the good of the country, we must pass this bipartisan bill.