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Dangerous vulnerability? Ron Johnson warns feds struggling to keep cyber security expertise

‘You can't look to the federal government at solving our cybersecurity problems,’ powerful Senate chairman says.

Updated: December 23, 2020 - 8:43am

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Sen. Ron Johnson is warning about a potential vulnerability in the fight against cyber threats, saying they’ve government cannot match the private sector compensation provided to top tier cybersecurity experts.

"The federal government has a really difficult time attracting, hiring and retaining the best talent. They just can't pay for it," he said during an interview on the John Solomon Reports podcast.

The Wisconsin Republican who serves as chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs described the field as "incredibly complex."

He said that those "on offense, the hackers, the cyber attackers, they have the advantage." The senator referenced "the Maginot Line," and remarked that "you're setting up a defense always based on the last war and people figure out a way around it. And so, I can't be real critical of our government's defensive efforts because it's an almost impossible and thankless task," he said.

Johnson said that "you can't look to the federal government at solving our cybersecurity problems, we really need to partner with closely, with the private sector."

As Just the News has reported, the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General has highlighted issues pertaining to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), such as the agency scoring lower than other DHS offices regarding information security.

According to the Just the News report, "the Inspector General’s office reported that of three major Homeland Security offices audited, CISA had the lowest scores by far for information security, a remarkable irony given the agency’s cybersecurity mission. CISA earned the lowest rating of 1 in four of the six categories studied. In contrast, fellow agencies Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol (CPB) achieved a score of 4 or 5 in all but two of the categories."

Regarding Christopher Krebs, the former CISA director, Johnson said that "when it came to elections, the fact that CISA really did move us from 82% paper ballot backup to 95%, I mean that was an accomplishment." Though Johnson remarked, "If I were former director Krebs I would kind of meld into the background right now," in light of Inspector General reports and a large-scale hack which reportedly impacted businesses and government agencies.

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