Facebook Twitter

Opinion: To enhance national security, Utah should encourage more innovation from the tech sector

As the nation experiences more cyber aggressions, the tech industry will play a crucial role in detection and deterrence of threats from foreign adversaries

SHARE Opinion: To enhance national security, Utah should encourage more innovation from the tech sector
Buildings in Utah’s “Silicon Slopes” near Point of the Mountain in Lehi.

The Adobe headquarters, bottom left, and other commercial developments that make up the “Silicon Slopes” around Point of the Mountain in Lehi, as photographed on Wednesday, May 16, 2018.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

The times, as Bob Dylan is famous for saying, are a changing. While our country can still boast the greatest fighting force in the world, the major landscapes of conflict have trended away from physical battlefields. Instead, more and more of the serious threats we face occur in the digital realm.

We’re proud of the role our state plays in supporting our national defense. In addition to several different National Guard bases and support facilities, Utah is home to Dugway Proving Ground, a weapons defense systems testing site, and Hill Air Force Base. These assets are an important part of our national defense strategy that keeps our country and her people safe.

Take the F35 jet fighter, one of several aircrafts that fly out of Hill Air Force Base, for example. It is undoubtedly one of the most advanced machines our armed forces have at their disposal.

Sophisticated, next generation technology such as AI-like sensor fusion, 360-degree camera views, improved data links, a database of threat information at-the-ready and a highly advanced computerized logistics system enable it to dominate the airspace it flies through.

However, these complex systems, unlike older analog ones, are targets in cyberspace.

As frequent news stories of the latest ransomware attacks against U.S. entities remind us, the threat of a cyberattack isn’t limited to military or government assets. In fact, 2020 was a record year for cyberattacks, with more victims and money lost in the United States than ever before, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (ICC). The ICC reported almost 800,000 complaints with losses totaling $4.2 billion.

Thankfully, many of the world’s largest and most successful technology companies were started, and are headquartered, here in America. They, unlike other foreign state-controlled entities, are allied with our military and law enforcement agencies in the fight against ever evolving cyberthreats.

As we continue to see a rise in cyber aggressions by foreign bad actors, the U.S. tech industry has and will continue to play a crucial role in detection and deterrence of these threats from foreign adversaries such as China.

Further, America’s tech innovators play a key role in Utah’s booming economy and have helped our state’s small businesses weather COVID-19’s perfect storm. These businesses employ almost 1 out of every 7 workers, generate approximately $30 billion in economic impact annually and make up around 11.5% of the Utah economy.

During the height of the COVID pandemic, more than 75% of small businesses in Utah increased their use of digital tools, according to the Connected Commerce Council. And over 50% of small businesses in our state plan to use the digital tools that the tech industry offers more frequently.

The economy, like the internet or an F35 fighter, is a complex and interconnected system that requires careful and knowledgeable expertise to maintain proper working order.

Consequently, it is crucial that policy leaders representing Utah’s best interests should look to continue crafting policies that encourage more innovation from the technology sector and that will help make our country a much safer place. The alternative will come at a much too high economic and security cost for Utah residents.

Grayson Massey is the national committeeman for the Utah Young Republicans and Western Region vice chair for the Young Republican National Federation.