Cyber bill gets boost

The Senate passed a bill Oct. 16 that will provide more than $900 million over five years for cybersecurity research and development.

The full Senate passed the Cyber Security Research and Development Act (S. 2182), which authorizes funding for new research and grants programs through the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Science Foundation.

Those programs will address matters ranging from basic research into security infrastructures to scholarships for new cybersecurity experts.

"In the long run, all government and private-sector cybersecurity efforts depend on people — trained experts with the knowledge and skills to develop innovative solutions and respond creatively and proactively to evolving threats," said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), sponsor of the Senate bill, during debate on the bill.

The bill's supporters made it clear that they believe the programs it creates cannot afford to wait.

"The stakes are high, and you can bet that hackers and cyberterrorists won't stand still, so it is important to launch these new cybersecurity research programs as soon as possible," said Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.).

Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), co-sponsor of the House version of the bill (H.R. 3394), and industry representatives, who often expressed concerns about potential standards for security technology, applauded the Senate's action.

The House must approve minor differences between the Senate and House versions of the bill, which will then be sent to President Bush to sign.

The Senate version includes making the bill's language compatible with the Homeland Security Act and creating a program to train faculty to teach college-level cybersecurity courses.

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