Hurd on the Hill: Defending our Digital Infrastructure

August 10, 2015
Hurd on the Hill: Local Columns
Bringing our Government into the 21st Century

I recently attended the premier information security conference in the world and I overheard a hacker say that cyber security or defending digital infrastructure is like trying to cure hunger -- it’s a prolonged struggle.  I come from an IT background, having studied Computer Science at Texas A&M University. In addition to chasing terrorists and proliferators of nuclear weapons, I also dealt with some offensive cyber operations when I was an undercover officer in the CIA. Prior to becoming the Representative of the 23 Congressional District of Texas I was an entrepreneur in the cybersecurity industry. In just 7 short months, this experience has been put to use.

Last week, the President signed my second bill into law. Designed to cut government waste and save tax dollars, the IT Duplication Reduction Act forces the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to identify and propose reductions on duplicative information technology (IT) systems within the agency. It’s a simple, straightforward bill that removes outdated technology platforms, bringing our government into the 21st Century, while saving us money in the long run.

I also introduced the EINSTEIN Act of 2015, which would authorize DHS to deploy the EINSTEIN 3A program -- an advanced tool that the government can use to respond to and mitigate cyber threats. Additionally, I am working with other members of the San Antonio Congressional Delegation to urge the Pentagon to bring a new National Guard Cyber Protection Team to San Antonio. If successful, more cybersecurity positions will become available for National Guard members in a city that already boasts a growing information technology sector. 

During the first week of our in district work period I spent time with several San Antonio cybersecurity and technology companies discussing ways the private sector can drive a higher standard of security across the government, and how the community is working together to create a more friendly business ecosystem, enticing more tech companies to relocate to the region. These are the types of jobs we want in San Antonio, and this would be the perfect complement to our strong defense community, booming tech industry, and academic institutions that are already investing in cybersecurity programs. It’s exciting to see San Antonio leading in this industry and positioning itself to become the leading hub for cybersecurity.

With our existing resources and coordination with the federal government, San Antonio can add “Cyber City, USA” to its list of nicknames. As one of the only Representatives with my background, it is my goal to foster this innovation by introducing legislation that makes it easier and more efficient for small tech and cyber businesses to thrive, and to encourage the federal government to invest more money into similar programs in San Antonio.

I’m encouraged by the enthusiasm of the community, and the bipartisan support in Congress to get rid of outdated technology systems and invest in this industry nationwide. I will continue to use my expertise in IT to inspire a modernized federal government to help us better defend our digital infrastructure.