Election's end revives hope for cybersecurity action

With uncertainty about the presidency settled, attention turns again to the chances of legislation or an executive order to address cyber threats.

concept cybersecurity art

For much of the past year, cybersecurity has itself been a battleground – subject to partisan tug-of-war and unsuccessful legislation on Capitol Hill, as well as the possibility of a White House executive order. Now, as Congress is expected to reconvene on Nov. 13 following President Barack Obama’s re-election, there is cautious optimism in Washington that there may finally be decisive action.

While no one denies the importance of cybersecurity legislation, it’s unclear how high of a priority it will be as the 2013 budget, sequestration, tax cuts and the Farm Bill, among other measures, compete for congressional attention. However, with Obama confirmed for another term in office, the potential for a cyber executive order looks increasingly likely, which would at least partially address cybersecurity regulation for the time being.

Combined with the increasing public awareness of the cyber threat – and subsequent pressure on lawmakers to take action – the end of election season sets the stage for action on cybersecurity, according to a panel of insiders speaking Nov. 7 at the Symantec Government Symposium in Washington.

“There’s the trifecta of knowing who controls the Senate, knowing who the President is and the fact that there’s not an election. That, combined with the executive order looming, has to change the calculation of the people, organizations and stakeholders that sought to and did obstruct legislation,” said Clete Johnson, professional staff and counsel for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

But will that be enough to end congressional infighting that helped curb legislation aiming to secure U.S. critical infrastructure and foster cooperation between government and industry? Both the House and the Senate would be starting from scratch after the Senate’s failed Cybersecurity Act of 2012. Representatives from both sides admit that could be a tall order – especially with so many other critical competing priorities.

“I think it’s difficult to put where on the scale [of legislative priorities] cybersecurity will be. I think both [Speaker of the House John Boehner] and [Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid] have the realization of how important this issue is, and certainly the White House does too,” said Michael Seeds, legislative director for Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas). Still, “anything with the word ‘regulation’ tied to it is going to be difficult to get through the House. I’m not sure how much of that has changed since the election or under the threat of the executive order. I do think a lot of the work we’ve done over the past year is laying the groundwork for continuing the conversation into the next Congress.”

Industry and other non-government stakeholders also have played a critical role in cybersecurity lawmaking. One of the most crucial – and most contested – parts of the various pieces of legislation has been the partnership between government and industry, and those outside influences have played a major role in cybersecurity’s long road through Washington.

“There seemed to be a very loud voice of industry saying, ‘No, don’t do this,’ but I don’t think that was necessarily a unified voice. It just happened to be a loud voice that was out there saying they didn’t want to be regulated, and the rest of industry sort of followed along,” said Tim Molino, director of government relations for the Business Software Alliance. “It is a complicated issue and it is something the government should be involved in at some level. Getting it right is the hard part, and there should be a debate on it.”

Undoubtedly, amid that debate, the two chambers of Congress are watching each other closely to determine the best way to move forward. While there is a sense of wariness regarding the two most controversial parts of proposed bills – regulation of private sector operators of critical infrastructure and protections for information-sharing – there also is a shared sense of confidence.

“There are some difficult differences and these are difficult issues because they’re substantive and politically complex,” Johnson said. “If you have [the legislation] pass in the Senate with the support of the entire military and intelligence establishment and then it goes to the House, could we work it out? I think the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff can also talk to the House Republicans…so we’re confident that if the political obstructions are removed, enactment follows.”

On the other side, Seeds also expressed hope that the teamwork that so far has gone into cybersecurity will prove effective

“We’ve had the White House, Senate and House all three actively working toward cyber legislation, so…we’re optimistic we can get something done,” Seeds said.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.