WASHINGTON- Some of the nation’s top cybersecurity officials testified before Congress Thursday about how prepared the country is for cyber attacks. Most of the Armed Services committee did not like what they heard.
“We are not succeeding,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who also said the U.S. is not prepared to handle cyber threats.
Cyber officials from the FBI, Department of Defense and Homeland Security all testified. But the main witness did not show up.
“Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the White House declined to have its cyber coordinator testify, citing executive privilege,” said McCain.
He called the move unconstitutional, and members from both parties slammed the White House for keeping its cybersecurity coordinator from testifying.
Much of the hearing focused on the 2016 election, and how the U.S. can prevent Russians from meddling in future ones.
“Cyber is an attempt to destroy a democracy, and that’s what Mr. Putin is all about,” said Sen. McCain.
The FBI said it’s still learning how to handle cyber attacks.
“The scale, scope and complexity of today’s threats in the digital domain is unlike anything humanity has ever experienced,” said Scott Smith, Assistant Director for the Cyber Division of the FBI.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, blasted the agencies for not coordinating on cybersecurity efforts.
“If you all don’t begin a more seamless operation with clear lines of accountability and control, we have no shot at fighting this enemy. None,” said McCaskill.
“If you can change the outcome of an election, then what is the constitution and our way of life all about?” said McCain.
He and others urged the agencies to develop a comprehensive plan before Russia strikes again.