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Proposed Senate Legislation Federalizes Cybersecurity

by Sam Gliksman

April 3, 2009 | 2:22 pm

Having lived in Israel for many years you become accustomed to checking for stray bags and suspicious people. Life in the US however has traditionally been safer and simpler. All that changed dramatically on the morning of 9/11. We’re on heightened security alert - from government all the way down to private citizens. And recently a new threat has started to emerge. The threat of a cyberattack. This is not the simple virus that attacks your personal computer and destroys your data. The nation’s economy and infrastructure are dependant upon computers. A cyberattack would potentially threaten our electricity grid, banking system, water supply, air traffic and more. It could quickly cripple our economy and cause sweeping chaos.

The Pentagon and National Security Agency have been protecting government and military networks from intrusion by hackers for a number of years. In recognition however that our national security demands far reaching security measures, several lawmakers are proposing new legislation that will empower government to create cybersecurity standards that extend to private industry for the very first time. The proposed Senate legislation, co-sponsored by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), promises to dramatically escalate U.S. defenses against cyberattacks.

“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.”  Acknowledging that defense against cyberattacks would require an ongoing effort, Rockefeller said that the proposal would call for an ongoing, quadrennial review of the nation’s cyberdefenses. “It’s not a problem that will ever be completely solved,” he said.

The legislation calls for the appointment of a White House cybersecurity “czar” who would have unprecedented authority to shut down private computer networks that were under cyberattack. The Office of the “National Cybersecurity Adviser”, reports directly to the president. It would require establishment of “measurable and auditable cybersecurity standards” that applies to private companies as well as government.

For the full article, please refer to the Washington Post.

Sam Gliksman
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