Lipinski, McCaul Introduce Cybersecurity Enhancement Act (June 3, 2011)
Taking an essential first step to secure our federal computer networks from espionage and our critical infrastructure from destruction, Congressmen Dan Lipinski (D-IL) and Michael McCaul (R-TX) introduced the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2011. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) will introduce companion legislation.
The Act will help harden federal networks, spur research and development, build our American cyber workforce and enable the government, universities and private sector to collaborate more easily. A similar bill passed the House of Representatives in 2010, by a vote of 422-5.
“It’s been more than a year since the House passed this bill by an overwhelming margin,” said Rep. Lipinski, the Research and Science Education Subcommittee Ranking Member, who introduced the act in the 111th Congress. “Since then, the problem of cybercrime has only increased. In the past few months alone we’ve seen Sony’s PlayStation Network and its users’ data compromised; disturbing breaches at computer security, oil, and financial companies; and reports that hackers are increasingly targeting smartphones. Cybercrime evolves as quickly as technology itself – Congress should recognize that reality and pass the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act as soon as possible to prevent further losses to individuals, businesses, and the economy as a whole.”
“All of our critical infrastructure is tied to cyber networks whether it be our utilities, power grids, financial institutions, or air traffic control system. Virtually every sector is vulnerable. I hope as with 9/11 we don’t turn a blind eye and have a denial of service attack before we address this issue,” said Rep. McCaul, who co-chaired the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ (CSIS) Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th President, which presented the report Securing Cyberspace for the 44th Presidencyto President Obama detailing recommendations for securing the country’s government networks and critical infrastructure.
“As cyber crime becomes more advanced, our cyber cops must stay one step ahead of cybercriminals to prevent infiltration of our nation’s financial infrastructure,” said Senator Menendez. “We cannot allow security breaches to undermine our trust in the U.S. economy. That’s why I’m introducing this bill in the Senate and am working with my colleagues in the House to get this legislation passed so that we can prevent future cybersecurity breaches.”
The Cybersecurity Enhancement Act incorporates several key recommendations of the CSIS Commission report.
· Improves Coordination in government: Gives National Institute of Standards and Technology the authority to set security standards for federal computer systems and develop checklists for agencies to follow.
· Improves Coordination outside of government: Creates a federal-university-private-sector task force to coordinate research and development.
· Improves R&D: Establishes Cybersecurity research and development grant programs.
· Improves quality of cyber professionals: Creates scholarship programs at NSF that can be repaid with federal service. Requires the President to conduct an assessment of cybersecurity workforce needs across the Federal government.
Congressional hearings on cybersecurity have revealed most federal agencies have been hacked into, and that the federal government is under threat of cyber attack on a daily basis. Many attacks are classified as espionage with foreign countries stealing government information. One data dump was equivalent in size to the Library of Congress. Other attacks are believed to have been attempts to shut down federal networks and cause harm.
(June 3, 2011)
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