Hurd on the Hill: Training Tomorrow’s Cyber Leaders

As our world becomes more interconnected it is important to take a step back and recognize good cyber practices and come together to make sure we are prepared for future challenges. The talk of “cyber,” “digital infrastructure” and “hacks” can be hard to grasp as we cannot always see someone hacking into your phone or computer, but it is happening and it is up to each of us to make sure we are prepared to face these technological challenges head-on.

As a computer science major, former CIA undercover officer, cybersecurity entrepreneur and House IT Subcommittee Chair, cybersecurity and keeping folks safe online has been a top priority of mine throughout my career, and I’ve worked on several bipartisan bills including the Modernizing Government Technology Act, the Internet of Things (IoT) Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2019 and the SECURE Technology Act, that all take strides to make sure we are prepared to take on the technological challenges of the 21st century and beyond while keeping your personal information safe and using taxpayer dollars more efficiently.

Why is this important? Because the reality is that whether we like it or not, cyber attackers across the globe are working around the clock to gain access to our personal data. They seek out your personally identifiable information like bank account numbers, social security numbers and credit card information to engage in fraud or extortion, or sell this data to others who will in turn target you and participate in similar activities.

While we work to improve our individual cyber hygiene by having secure passwords, clicking only on links from sources and people you trust and regularly updating devices, also know that there are many smart, creative young people right here across South and West Texas who are learning the skills needed to keep our nation safe for future generations.

Last week, I caught up with the CyberPatriot team at Medina Valley ISD. This CyberPatriot team, led by their Coach Frank Hall, participates in competitions where they receive an operating system and are tasked to quickly find – and fix – any vulnerabilities they see in the software. Seeing them hard at work firsthand was inspiring, and as a computer science major at Texas A&M I was glad to talk to them about my experiences and all the options they can have for future careers.

We also see many bright problem solvers across the 23rd District of Texas step up to the plate to compete in the Congressional App Challenge, where high school students across the country learn coding skills or put their knowledge to the test to create an app. Last year’s winners were Joshua Price and Daniel Paris from Pecos High School, who, in light of their friend’s passing from a car accident, created an application called “Drive Safe” that would allow drivers to contact emergency services and loved ones after an accident without having to reach for their phones. If you or a student you know would like to participate in this year’s App Challenge, give my San Antonio office a call at 210-921-3130.

To remain a global leader, America needs enough creative problem solvers to be able to tackle tomorrow’s challenges, and as we rely more on phones and other electronic devices, we must be able to take advantage of technology before it takes advantage of us. I’m proud to represent motivated students across TX-23 who are learning the skills to be our future leaders and keep us safe for generations to come.


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