Cybersecurity bill is first of several to target federal IT

Senate Democrats seek to safeguard critical infrastructure

Senate Democrats this week introduced legislation, sponsored by Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), calling for national protection against cyberattacks that pose a danger to national security and cause the hemorrhaging of American assets to cyber bandits.

This is the first in an expected series of bills targeted at safeguarding government IT, reports The legislation, called the Cybersecurity and American Cyber Competitiveness Act, underscores that urgent action is needed to protect infrastructure. In particular, it calls for protecting the electric grid and the nation’s military assets, financial sector and telecommunications networks, according to Reid’s office. 

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“Today we rely more heavily than ever on technology to run everything from power plants to missile systems to personal computers," Sen. Reid said in a statement posted on Just one cyberattack has the capability of delivering a devastating blow to the country’s economy, he said.

“A cyberattack could, for example, bring down our nation’s air traffic control system in a matter of seconds,” he said in the statement.

The cybersecurity bill also reaches into the private sector, urging incentives for attack risk assessments and preventive action as well as promoting investment in the U.S. IT arena. And it seeks to give the government the capability to assess risks in cyberspace and to prevent, detect and respond to attacks

The legislation anticipates the aid of other nations in the effort. And in fact, leaders from the Defense Department, NATO and the European Union assembled in Brussels this week to devise a plan to combat the recent slew of cyberattacks. The seed for the cyber defense meeting was planted at a November summit in Lisbon, Portugal.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) commended Reid on making cybersecurity legislation a priority in the 112th Congress and urged the Obama administration to do the same.

“The future security of the American way of life depends on passage of comprehensive cybersecurity legislation…” said Sen. Joe Lieberman in the statement. “Last Congress we made great, bipartisan strides toward passing such legislation. He added that the new act would build on that progress.

Lieberman last year had complained about the administration’s failure to undertake the issue until late in the 111th Congress, reports Tech Daily Dose. Separate committee cybersecurity bills were approved last year but were unable to be fused together into one comprehensive piece of legislation, according to the Daily Dose.

About the Author

Alysha Sideman is the online content producer for Washington Technology.

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Reader comments

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 Short Little Rebel

Lieberman's Cybersecurity and Internet Freedom Act 2011 is the most treacherous bill ever introduced in Congress. It represents the demise of the USA's technology sector and ushers in Big Brother. If ever the Mark of the Beast became real, this represents the technology to implement it. Every red blooded American (conservative & liberal alike) needs to read the following indepth analysis of the bill. This article breaks the bill down into understandable points, covers the treacherous authorities given to the Director of the new Cybersecurity Agency proposed as well as the POTUS's authorities. The implications of the bill are also broken down with quotes directly from the bill to support them. Contact information for Senators & Representatives is also given. We need to create such a groundswell of discontent that the media will be forced to cover it.

Tue, Feb 1, 2011 Marc Gartenberg DC

Here's the rub: Do our representatives really understand the details of 'cybersecurity'? Not really, but on a slow news day, these efforts stand out. All too often, cybersecurity is really used to represent physical security aspects, and coming on the heels of the new 'Threat Alert Codes' this makes for a good headline. Take 2 steps back and look at what cybersecurity legislation has changed since 2001. Not much. The good news is that this makes a headline, the unfortunate part is that there are few champions taking up the cause of rewriting FISMA.

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