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Lawmakers Call For Creation Of Cyberdefense

April 2, 2009

Lawmakers want to severely increase U.S. defense against cyberattacks, creating proposals that would allow the government to write and implement security guidelines for confidential industry.

The proposals would extend the focal point of the government’s cybersecurity attempts to incorporate military networks as well as private systems that are in charge of electricity and water. Simultaneously, the bill would insert rules to guarantee industry conformity with theses rules, congressional officials stated on Wednesday.

Concentrating on what is explained as a huge exposure; the laws wish to have a White House cybersecurity “czar” with unparalleled power to close computer networks, counting private ones, if a cyberattack occurs, the officials said.

IT is uncertain as to how private business owners will respond. Jim Dempsey, vice president for public policy at the Center for Democracy and Technology, feels that obligatory rules have for a long time been the “third rail of cybersecurity policy.” Dempsey thinks the possible rules could also repress individual creativity by making companies conform to a uniform approach.

The potential laws, co-sponsored by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), were outlined with White House participation. While the White House signifies that it backs some key elements of the bill, no official endorsement has been made yet.

Many of the proposals were based on suggestions from a milestone study conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
As of now, government liability for cybersecurity is divided: The Pentagon and the National Security Agency defend military networks, as the Department of Homeland Security gives help to private networks. Prior cybersecurity ideas have mainly focused on preventing the susceptibility of government and military computers to hackers.

A 60-day federal evaluation of computer attacks is in progress, and the administration plans on integrating private industry in defenses.

“People say this is a military or intelligence concern, but it’s a lot more than that,” Rockefeller said. “It suddenly gets into the realm of traffic lights and rail networks and water and electricity.”

U.S. intelligence officials have long cautioned that an attack on private computers may cause extensive social and economic chaos, potentially shutting down banks, utilities, and transportation systems.

The Rockefeller-Snowe law would generate an Office of the National Cybersecurity Adviser, whose head would answer to the president and would organize defense standards across various government agencies. This would necessitate the National Institute of Standards and Technology to create “measurable and auditable cybersecurity standards” that would affect private corporations.

The plan would also consent to have a continuous evaluation of the nation’s cyberdefenses. “It’s not a problem that will ever be completely solved,” Rockefeller said. “You have to keep making higher walls.”

Last week, Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair announced to reporters that one agency should supervise cybersecurity for everyone. Blair feels that the NSA should be the focus of these attempts.

“The taxpayers of this country have spent enormous sums developing a world-class capability at the National Security Agency on cyber,” he said.

Blair recognized that privacy concerns will be an issue, but says that the program should be planned in a way that provides Americans assurance that it is “not being used to gather private information.”

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