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More Senate Cyber Legislation and House Smart Grid Cyber Concerns

Friday, July 2, 2010 | 3:45 PM Leave a comment Go to comments

The National Journal is reporting this afternoon that seven key Senate Democrats sent a letter to President Obama last night expressing their concerns for the nation’s cybersecurity and calling for “an urgent need for action.”

In the letter, Senators Harry Reid (NC), John Rockefeller (WV), Joe Lieberman (CT), Dianne Feinstein (CA), Carl Levin (MI), Patrick Leahy (VT) and John Kerry (MA) wrote: “We must ensure that the federal government is organized and integrated to facilitate cross-government coordination, broad situational awareness, and agile, effective responses to cyber threats.  We must also ensure that the government has adequate authorities to protect U.S. critical infrastructure and has the institutions in place to ensure effective cooperation and information sharing with key government and private sector actors.”

The senators went on to note that they are “working to develop comprehensive cyber legislation that will endow the federal government with the capabilities and authorities it needs to effectively meet the tremendous challenges of cybersecurity.”  An expected date for the new legislation was not provided.

Over in the House, cybersecurity was also a topic of discussion, as the Committee on Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation held a hearing yesterday to discuss smart grid standards and technologies.  A press release on the hearing included the mention of cybersecurity measures to protect the nation’s power grid, which, according to Subcommittee Chairman David Wu (D-OR), “has often been called the biggest machine on Earth.”

Meanwhile, one of the ‘biggest media’ is also covering the ‘biggest machine’ today.  An article in the New York Times points out that the utility industry will spend about $1 trillion over the next two decades on renewable energy and smart grid technologies to conserve energy.  Citing a recent report from the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) and the Department of Energy, the article goes on to note the increasing threat of cyber attacks on the potentially vulnerable grid.

According to the NERC-DOE report, “The risk of a coordinated cyber attack on the North American grid has become ‘more acute’ in the past 15 years because of the increased use of digital communications equipment linking generators, transmission hubs and control centers.”

As a solution, the report mentions that “In addition to stronger defenses against cyber attacks, the industry needs to design strategies to help the grid survive and recover from attacks.”

Additional cybersecurity news follows…

Navy CIO assuming new cyber role (Federal Computer Week)

FEMA cybersecurity fix could take years (Information Week)

Computer hack: 700-plus credit cards stolen from hotel (ABC News)

Companies unaware of cyber attack threat (eSecurity Planet)

In the event of cyber attack, let’s rely on and trust…the government? (Washington Examiner)

Google dashboard now showing security warnings (Information Week)

Microsoft security bug exposed by Google researcher now exploited more than 10,000 times (Forbes)

$5M grant to finance cyber training for 700 Maryland workers (ExecutiveGov)

Cybersecurity News wishes all of its readers a safe and happy Fourth of July weekend!

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