U.S. cybersecurity companies are a key part of the nation's defense against foreign cyberattacks, which have occurred with great frequency recently. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

In the last 18 months, the world has been engulfed in a battle against COVID-19, trying to limit the spread from an invisible enemy and save lives and livelihoods in the process. As the fight against COVID-19 continues, another unseen enemy has threatened the security of our nation. Cyberattacks from foreign adversaries, like April’s Colonial Pipeline attack or the string of ransomware strikes targeting overwhelmed Texas hospitals, are an increasingly sophisticated and common threat across the United States. 

We are under siege on more fronts than ever before, yet our defenses may not match the seriousness of these continued attacks. Antitrust legislation being debated in Congress puts our nation at risk by weakening the innovations we have built through public-private partnerships, leaving us behind in technological innovation and economic growth, and ceding leadership to countries with diametrically different values.

Specifically, this legislation gives foreign entities the ability to sue America’s tech innovators, resulting in slowed or halted innovations that are critical to advancing the United States’ defense and cybersecurity strategy. Additionally, the proposals could exempt most foreign technology companies like Alibaba, Tencent, and Huawei from oversight, while providing China with greater access to U.S. data.

While cybersecurity attacks may seem distant, they are in your backyard. Dozens of Texas towns were targeted as part of a massive Russian-linked cyberattack, resulting in widespread chaos and days of disruptions as city officials and workers were blocked from accessing local government computer systems. In the last two years alone, more than 60 Texas school systems have suffered cybersecurity breaches, including Judson ISD here in San Antonio.

This rise in cyber aggression threatens the reliability of the nation’s critical infrastructure, including our schools, hospitals, and energy grid, and as a country, we must prioritize these protections.

The U.S. tech industry has not only buoyed the state’s economy during the pandemic, it also has contributed to strengthening national security and international competitiveness by collaborating with the U.S. government to detect, innovate, and mitigate risks through programs like the Cybersecurity Collaboration Center.

Texas, in particular, is in a unique position to combat foreign adversaries who attempt to undermine the U.S. as a global leader. Texas is home to a robust tech sector that leads the way in innovation and growth, and San Antonio is key to that dominance as the second largest cyber hub in the country.

The private sector has played an integral role in combating emerging threats and protecting our national security. The country’s ability to innovate and maintain our global technological edge will be crucial as we continue to fight against rising cyber hostilities from foreign adversaries for years to come.

Moving forward, our elected leaders must be wary of the unintended consequences that may result from anti-competition policies currently being debated in Washington that could weaken America’s technological and economic edge, put Texas jobs in jeopardy, and leave us vulnerable to harmful cyber warfare. It’s time to invest in smart solutions that prioritize the success of our students, the growth of our businesses, and the protection of our economy, nation, and its people.

Michael Allen

Michael Allen has spent his career in national security, advising on such matters as cybersecurity and intelligence. He served in the George W. Bush White House in a variety of national security policy...