Statement of the Honorable Lamar Smith
Joint Economic Committee
Wired World: Cyber Security and the U.S. Economy
June 21, 2001

Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing on cyber security.

I have a particular interest in this subject. As Chairman of the House Judiciary Crime Subcommittee, I recently held three hearings on the issue of cyber security. The final hearing examined the role of businesses in combating cyber crime.

Crime is still crime, whether it occurs on the street or on the Web.

And while other crime rates continue to drop, cyber crime is dramatically increasing.

The economic consequences of cyber crime are enormous. Billions of dollars are lost every year. International software pirates rip-off consumers and companies, costing hundreds of thousands of American jobs.

Last May one computer virus disrupted the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers, causing losses estimated in the billions of dollars. And in March, the FBI issued a warning that an organized group of Russian hackers had stolen more than a million credit card numbers from companies' databases.

The Internet has fostered an environment where hackers retrieve private data for amusement, individuals distribute software illegally, and viruses circulate with the sole purpose of debilitating computers.

In confronting this issue, the business community faces a dilemma. Do they report cyber crime at the risk of losing the public's confidence in their ability to protect customer information? Or, do they fail to act and risk losses and repeat attacks?

Technology holds the key to the future, and private businesses are leading the way in innovation and products. But if left unchecked, cyber crime will stifle that progress.

I hope to hear from the witnesses on how their companies and businesses are working to enhance cyber security. I also would like to hear about their suggestions for legislation.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.