Student Spotlight

William R. Timmons IV

Congressman
Class of 2021

“Cybersecurity impacts almost every aspect of our lives, from national security, military, intelligence, the economy, international affairs, business security, and more. A complicated issue like this requires both sides of the aisle to have a seat at the table. We all want to keep our nation and our people safe. We just sometimes have different ideas of how we make that happen.

As a member of the Financial Services Committee in Congress, William Timmons, a first-term Republican congressman from the 4th Congressional District of South Carolina, has gained a special respect for the dangers facing the United States. “Cybersecurity is a complex, rapidly evolving national security threat–one that could have devastating consequences if we are not properly prepared and constantly evaluating our vulnerabilities. That is especially true in regard to critical infrastructure. Additionally, I believe that our growing national debt and deficit are another huge threat to our national security that must be addressed as soon as possible. In both cybersecurity and fiscal solvency, our time is running out.”

William was sworn into Congress in January 2019 after serving two years as a state senator. It didn’t take long for him to want to get his arms around cybersecurity. “I am one of those people that really likes to dive in and learn as much as I can about an issue,” he said. The MS in Cybersecurity Risk and Strategy program fit the bill: “The immersive learning environment has been incredible. The mostly asynchronous model has been very helpful, especially for my unpredictable schedule. The professors are all at the top of their field in academia or as practitioners. And the exposure to industry leaders through Zoom calls has broadened my knowledge base and provided a depth of understanding that would likely never happen without the program.”

The program is designed to help students develop a better understanding of how public-private partnerships are necessary to counter a complex range of threats.  A fourth-generation descendant of entrepreneuers–and a small-business owner himself who operates a CrossFit gym and yoga studios in Greenville, South Carolina–William says: “The world is far too interconnected to leave the private sector out or simply force a regulatory burden without appropriate vetting and collaboration. My objective is to balance the privacy and efficiency concerns without growing government and creating undue regulatory interference in a globalized economy. Perhaps most important is the role that the private sector must play in this conversation. Washington should not force a one-size-fits-all model on our highly complex economy. This must be thoughtful and deliberate, but I believe a path forward is possible.”

The route to consensus demands a bipartisan approach, he believes. In running for Congress to replace retiring congressman Trey Gowdy, William campaigned on the premise that “Washington is broken.” It’s clear to him that fixing the system lies in constructive dialogue. “Cybersecurity impacts almost every aspect of our lives, from national security, military, intelligence, the economy, international affairs, business security, and more. A complicated issue like this requires both sides of the aisle to have a seat at the table. We all want to keep our nation and our people safe. We just sometimes have different ideas of how we make that happen.”

William and his MSCRS teammates are developing a capstone project that focuses on the tension around cybersecurity policy. “We hope to provide a path forward that all interested parties can sign off on. Our approach takes into account the challenges associated with legislating in this field and provides a pragmatic solution.”