New Bill Declares War on ‘Cyber Mayhem’

Warning of “cyber mayhem” sweeping the country, leaders of the Senate Homeland Security, Intelligence, and Commerce committees on Tuesday introduced long-expected legislation designed to streamline government efforts to combat cyberthreats.

Cyber security analysts work in the "watch and warning center" during the first tour of the governmentís secretive cyber defense lab Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011, in Idaho Falls, Idaho. The Homeland Security Department's Control System Security Program facilities are intended to protect the nation's power grid, water and communications systems. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (S. 2105) would be a major step toward increased government oversight of some private networks like electric grids, water systems, or transportation, which could be at risk of cyberattacks.

“This bill would begin to arm us for battle in a war against the cyber mayhem that is being waged against us by our nation’s enemies, organized criminal gangs, and terrorists who would use the Internet against us as surely as they turned airliners into guided missiles,” said one of the bill’s sponsors, Senate Homeland Security Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., in a statement.

The bill would direct the Homeland Security Department to assess and determine which industries to classify as “critical infrastructure.” If selected, those industries would be required to meet a minimum level of security, which would be developed by the companies and the agency.

Loss of critical infrastructure is defined as damage that would cause “severe degradation of national security, catastrophic economic damage, or the interruption of life-sustaining services” leading to mass casualties or evacuations. Supporters of the bill are quick to point out that the legislation would not put Homeland Security in charge of actually protecting private networks.

If companies meet the designated level of security and still fall victim to a cyberattack, the bill would grant them liability protection.

Under the bill, all of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity efforts would be consolidated in a new National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications. The legislation would also seek to increase information-sharing between the government and private businesses, provide a new program for research and development, and increase standards for federal networks.

Read more here: Nationaljournal
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