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U.S. Can't Afford to 'Wait for a Cyber Catastrophe,’ Says U.S. Representative

Rep. David McKinley will take messages from a West Virginia forum to Washington, D.C., in hopes of creating funding to support cybersecurity.

(TNS) — In wanting to inform the public on the issue of cybersecurity, U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., hosted a panel forum Thursday in Fairmont.

In providing the forum at the Robert H. Mollohan Research Center at the I-79 High Technology Park, McKinley brought up three panels to discuss the issues, problems and future of cybersecurity across the country and West Virginia.

“It’s a serious issue and we need to come to grips with it,” McKinley said.

Having the forum, McKinley wanted to expose the threats of cyberattacks, how businesses and the government are combating those threats and possible job opportunities in the field.

McKinley said the public along with businesses have become so dependent on technology it is taken for granted. This can lead to cellphones, computers and even cars being hacked and personal information being stolen.

“This forum was about making people aware that there is a threat and how it could affect them personally,” he said.

Bringing the “serious issue” of cybersecurity to light, McKinley said every day the U.S. is being attacked in the cyberworld and it just hasn’t been recently.

“It’s been a major issue for 10 or 15 years now,” he said. “Although this isn’t a physical war, cyberthreats are serious and could possibly lead to major controls being shut off or an electrical grid shutting down.”

One of the panelists, Joseph Klimavicz, chief information officer for the U.S. Department of Justice, told the audience that the department has recently seen an increase of cyberattacks and attempts.

Some of the most common cyberthreats can come through malicious emails, according to Klimavicz. He said the cyberattackers will take information from social media profiles, use that information to send a citizen an email that look familiar to them but when that person opens it, the threat then begins to spread.

Klimavicz said the department is working to make sure those types of threats can be fought.

“But you can’t stop someone from clicking on a malicious email,” he said. “We block hundreds of thousands of these threats every year but some will get through.”

Another panelist, Diane Miller, with Northrop Grumman Crop., a global security company, said she believes the federal government is doing things to combat cyberthreats not only for military and other government-run organizations, but for the public. She said the government is also educating the public about cyberthreats and cybersecurity.

She mentioned the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cyber Emergency Response Team website that has tips for the public on cybersecurity from keeping bank accounts to personal information safe.

“From that standpoint, I think that has been wonderful,” Miller said.

Also discussed at the forum was the possibility for job growth not only in the cybersecurity field but in West Virginia.

McKinley said many cybersecurity companies have formed to help businesses, organizations and even citizens be protected from a cyberthreat. He said looking to the future, he would like a company located in North Central West Virginia.

With the information from panelist and concerns from those in attendance, McKinley said he’s going to take this experience back to Washington, D.C., in hopes of creating funding to support this issue.

“This needs to be prioritized,” he said. “We could wait for a cyber catastrophe, or we put the research in now and fight back.”

For more information about the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity tips visit

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