Bill enhances DOE security

President Clinton on Tuesday signed into law a bill that calls for sweeping changes to the security posture of the Energy Department, including a provision to create a new cybersecurity "red team" to conduct real-time evaluations of DOE computer networks.

The changes at DOE were approved as part of the $289 billion Defense authorization bill, which sets spending limits for the Defense Department and national security-related activities of DOE.

According to the bill, the new red team will operate under the National Counterintelligence Policy Board and will be composed of representatives from DOD, the National Security Agency, the CIA, the FBI and other law-enforcement agencies.

In addition, the bill formally establishes within DOE a new security commission. The group, the Commission on Safeguards, Security and Counterintelligence, probably will oversee the more than $39 million earmarked by the bill for counterintelligence and cybersecurity activities at DOE.

The legislation also includes provisions for enhanced protection for whistleblowers who uncover fraud, waste, abuse and security problems at the department. It also increases penalties for department personnel who disclose or receive restricted data.

Clinton's approval of the bill comes after months of heated debate surrounding what some have called the most damaging case of espionage in U.S. history at the nation's five nuclear weapons research laboratories. Chinese agents are believed to have exploited weaknesses in computer and physical security systems at the labs to steal sensitive nuclear weapons design secrets.

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