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Senator Suggests Waging ‘Comparable’ Cyber Attack in Response to OPM Hack

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) suggested the U.S. wage a “comparable” cyber attack in response to the Office of Personnel Management hack, reportedly carried out by China.

“We are very good at what we do but there are other countries who are constantly working to get better. The Russians are very good at what they do. The Chinese are as well. Iran and North Korea continue to get better, that’s why it’s so important that we develop a policy because I think we’re getting close to a point where it will be close and we will need a policy in place in order to address actions that take place,” Fischer, a member of the Armed Services Committee, said at the Hudson Institute.

Fischer serves as the chairman of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, which deals with cybersecurity issues.

“What can we do? The United States could react in a number of ways whether it’s going into their systems to let them know we can. Whether it’s to do a retaliatory attack that would be comparable — but anytime we would do something like that whoever we’re going after learns something about what we have as well,” she said, referring to the OPM hack, which resulted in the theft of millions of federal employees’ personal information.

“So it’s a balance there on what we can do. Is it deterrence where you would say if you do a major cyber attack on us, we turn around and would do a major one on you, which would have the same consequences if not greater? Again, that goes to policy,” she added.

Fischer, a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, said Congress must address the communication and coordination issues at every federal government agency.

“It affects every agency when you have, I haven’t updated this number so I may be off, but when you have 37 job training programs across 9 federal agencies. We need to be looking at, and we truly need to demand, that we are getting the biggest bang for our buck. Which programs work? Where is it being effective and which ones could be eliminated?” she said.

“That’s an issue that I take very seriously and that we need to look at across government, of course we see it with the Internet as well. I talk about regulations and the uncertainty and really the discouragement that entrepreneurs face with regulations. That has to change or we won’t be competitive in a global marketplace.”

Fischer expressed frustration that the Senate is not going through an appropriations process in regular order.

“The Appropriations Committee, they are doing their work, they are sending their bills out of committee but we have tried to address one on the floor after we did the National Defense Authorization Act, the next step we took on the agenda was to take up the appropriations bill for the Department of Defense to pay for what we authorized,” she said.

“We were not successful in getting the 60 votes to get on that bill. I believe as Republicans we will be putting that appropriations bill up again to see if we can get on that bill.”