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 Govinfosecurity.com. 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 Democrats.Senate.gov. 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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