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DHS Cyber Woes and Congressional Cybersecurity ‘Solutions’

Thursday, June 17, 2010 | 11:15 AM Leave a comment Go to comments

Yesterday Cybersecurity News reported that DHS Inspector General Richard Skinner was expected to announce the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), the Department’s cybersecurity unit, lacks the authority and manpower needed to protect the nation from cyber attacks.

Skinner’s announcement appears to have struck a nerve… at least in the media.  This morning, headlines include:  The Associated Press – “US lacks staff, power to protect networks.”  CNN – “US vulnerable to cyber threats, experts warn.”  The Hill –  “Inspector General: DHS lacks authority, staff to protect federal networks.”  Network World –  “DHS has dropped the ball on network security.”  Information Week –   “Inspector General criticizes cybersecurity efforts.”  And a Cybersecurity News personal favorite, from Wired’s Danger Room – “DHS geek squad: No power, no plan, lots of vacancies.”

And while the DHS staggers to find a solution to cybersecurity woes, it appears the Senate may already have one.  A press release yesterday from the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee reported: “House leaders announce support for Lieberman, Collins, Carper cybersecurity bill.”

According to the release, House Homeland Security Committee, Intelligence Subcommittee Chair Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) and the Committee’s Ranking Member, Peter King (R-NY) will introduce the Senate cybersecurity legislation into the House by the end of the week.

Also covering the bill’s growing support, the National Journal said Rep. Harman believes “urgency is needed to address major gaps in the government’s efforts to protect federal IT systems and those that run critical private infrastructure, such as electrical grids and telecommunications systems.”

Meanwhile, an article in Politico this morning points out that several key points remain in the debate for ideal cyber legislation.  One being that – Sens. Rockefeller (D-WV) and Snowe (R-ME) introduced a cybersecurity bill earlier this year, which unlike the Lieberman-Collins-Carper legislation, does not require Congressional approval for the President to make a decision in the event of an attack.  The two bills are also divided on the link between private and public sector roles, as well as the idea of the President reigning supreme with an Internet “kill switch.”

Additional cybersecurity news from the day follows…

Is the US prepared for cyber war or are we sitting ducks? (Network World)

Cyber-war a growing threat warn experts (BBC)

Kyrgyzstan on verge of cyber war (Voice of Russia)

Defense firms face cyber spying at arms bazaar (Federal News Radio)

9 Career Tips for Security Pros (Gov Info Security)

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  1. Thursday, June 17, 2010 | 3:07 PM at 3:07 PM

    What many people don’t seem to realize, is that no one can hack a system that isn’t hooked up to the Internet or accessible via a dial-in connection. If an organization has all of its systems on a closed network with no Internet access and no remote access capabilities, the only real threats are a trusted insider or unauthorized physical access.

    The uninformed are being led around by the nose when it comes to understanding some of the issues. This is not a good thing.

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