Cybersecurity

Senate signals piecemeal approach on cybersecurity

US Capitol

A draft cybersecurity bill from the Senate Commerce Committee puts the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in charge of developing guidelines for public-private collaboration on threats to critical infrastructure.

The July 10 draft, which has support from committee Chairman John Rockefeller, (D-W.Va.), and Ranking Member John Thune, (R-S.D.), differs from earlier Senate efforts at cybersecurity legislation on two key fronts.

First, it is rather modest in scope, covering critical infrastructure risks, cybersecurity research, and workforce development, and has some common elements with bills that have already passed in the House. Second, it proposes a voluntary rather than mandatory regime of information sharing between government and commercial infrastructure operators -- a position key senators adopted in 2012 only after trying unsuccessfully to require such sharing.

The new language updates NIST's charter to include the development of "a voluntary, industry-led set of standards, guidelines, and best practices, methodologies, procedures, and processes to reduce cyber risks to critical infrastructure." Under the draft, NIST would not be able to require industry to adopt specific solutions or IT products, or mandate specific guidelines for the design and development of products or services. This is largely consistent with President Obama's February executive order, which created a framework for the protection of critical infrastructure.

The bill also looks to train qualified personnel to work in government cybersecurity through a "scholarship-for-service" program that offers tuition for promising students with an aptitude in computer science and related fields, with the expectation that they will ply their skills on behalf of the government. The bill orders a study of existing cyber security education programs to find out whether their curricula match up with the demands of the field, as well as an analysis of impediments facing the federal government in attracting qualified cybersecurity personnel. Further, the bill directs the Office of Science and Technology Policy to expand its work in designing reliable networks, testing third-party software, protecting privacy, and securing the cloud.

The workforce and education components of the draft track fairly closely with measures passed by the House of Representatives in the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2013 and the Advancing America's Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Act. Both those bills have been referred to the Senate Commerce Committee.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the About.com online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Mon, Jul 15, 2013 Cicero the Younger D.C.

Why didn't you provide a link to the draft ? This is indeed modest; but, it may be the first conferenceable vehicle since the House junk passed. In the face of having only the February EO and the bizarre NIST/DHS interagency process to fall back on, this may be a welcome development if there is actually prospect of passing something.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group