Sen. Ron Johnson: Federal Government Needs to Partner With Private Sector for Cybersecurity

December 23, 2020 Updated: December 23, 2020

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said on Tuesday that the federal government should work with the private sector to improve cybersecurity.

“What I’ve always believed is if you’re really looking for cybersecurity, we have to look to the private sector because the private sector is always going to outperform government,” Sen. Johnson said in an interview with John Solomon from

On Dec. 13, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Agency (CISA) determined a “global intrusion campaign” and issued an emergency directive stating that the cyber attack poses “unacceptable risks” to the security of federal networks.

According to software provider SolarWinds, which reported that its Orion products were compromised, more than 300,000 customers around the world, including the office of the president of the United States, the Pentagon, and NASA, use its products and services.

“It’s not easy. The federal government has a really difficult time attracting, hiring, and retaining the best talent, they just can’t pay for it,” Sen. Johnson continued.

The senator pointed out that government salaries top out at a couple of hundred thousand dollars, while those Silicon Valley companies can pay a lot more.

Sen. Johnson also said that the people on offense—the hackers and cyber attackers—have an advantage.

“Just like the national line, you know, you’re setting up in advance, always based on the last war and people figure out a way around it,” Sen. Johnson added. “You can’t look to the federal government at solving our cybersecurity problems, we really need to partner closely with the private sector.”

When asked about how the Hunter Biden scandal will play out next year, Sen. Johnson responded that it’s a big mess and the story is not going away.

“This was a serious investigation on all our parts because our national securities are put at risk when you have these kinds of financial, foreign entanglements that the Bidens obviously have,” he told the program.

In September, Sens. Johnson and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, released a report on Hunter Biden stating that the younger Biden and his family “received millions of dollars from foreign nationals with questionable backgrounds.”

Sen. Johnson claimed that by bringing up the issue up, they “have lessened the national security risk” because those connections and payments may be used for blackmail.

Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.