Whether it’s a nation state-sponsored hack or simply a teenager with a laptop, Congress comes under cyberattack on a daily basis, said House of Representatives Inspector General Theresa Grafenstine.
But this is not a challenge specific to the House. The country is in the middle of a cyberwar, she told the audience on Wednesday during the National Town Hall Meeting on Minority Underrepresentation in Cybersecurity in Washington, D.C. And to effectively compete in this war, the U.S. is going to have to bring every able-bodied individual into the fight.
“If we think we're going to engage in this with only half of our soldiers, we're going to lose; they're going to eat our lunch,” she said. “We need to make sure we're getting everybody involved; every single one of us.”
This approach means reaching beyond the typical selection of cybersecurity job candidates and actively training and recruiting individuals from the country’s minority populations.
Grafenstine said she has firsthand experience with being a minority in this field.
In 1992, when she started in the Defense Department’s IG office in Philadelphia as an auditor, she said she was one of the first women hired as an auditor. And then when she became an IT auditor, she was in even more of the minority.
“If I thought that women were underrepresented in the audit profession, when I went to the first IT security meeting, oh my goodness, there's like a sea of testosterone,” she told the audience.
Today, Grafenstine and her team at the IG office completes a lot of behind-the-scenes cybersecurity assessments to help combat cyberthreats. They work closely with the House’s chief information officer and chief information security officer.
But fighting in this cyberwar will also require government agencies working in tandem with academia and industry members, she said. The country is not going to have success if each group acts alone.
“This is a team sport,” she said. “All of us have a role in this.”