Speaking Monday at Space Foundation’s Cyber 1.0 Conference in Colorado Springs, former Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell said current laws outlining the functions and roles of the defense and intelligence communities regarding cybersecurity are inadequate, and changes to the existing directives would be under debate until a “catastrophic event” occurs.
McConnell, who is currently at Booz Allen Hamilton, said the United States needs another Sen. Goldwater figure that could help change the current laws to reflect the role the intelligence and defense communities should play in cybersecurity. However, he was not sure it would take place in the near future.
“What I would predict is we’re going to debate this until we have a catastrophic event,” he said.
McConnell also talked about his relationship with former President George W. Bush, with whom he worked as director of national intelligence. He described a meeting with Bush and other administration officials that resulted in $17.3 billion being funneled into cybersecurity.
Initially, McConnell was making the case for a cyber attack relating to the war in Iraq, and after several minutes of discussion, Bush approved the request. McConnell used the extra time to discuss possibly expanding cybersecurity expenditure.
“I sat there for maybe 10, 12 second and I said to myself, self, if you don’t do this, you will regret it for the rest of your life.”
McConnell was granted permission by Bush to take one month to develop a proposal. Eventually, $18 billion was requested in funding and $17.3 billion was approved.
“I wish I’d been smart enough to ask for 40 billion,” McConnell said.
The money has been used to secure the military and government domains but not to enhance security in the private sector.
“[The money] has enhanced .mil and starts down a path to protect .gov. It does nothing, zero, for .com, which is 98 percent of the problem,” McConnell said.