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Lame Ducking Cybersecurity

Thursday, October 28, 2010 | 3:18 PM Leave a comment Go to comments

With less than a week to go until the midterm elections, there’s a bit of a buzz about the potential of a cyber bill lurking its way into an already-slated lame duck session.

And while some remain hopeful to hear a late-November Senate cyber debate, according to NextGov, Hill aides and ACLU affiliates are expecting otherwise.

At a Heritage Foundation forum on cybersecurity held earlier this week, Louis Tucker, Senate Intelligence Committee minority staff director, and Michelle Richardson, a legislative council for the ACLU, advised the Obama administration to step up and offer a proposal that would engage both sides of the aisle to work together to pass cyber legislation.

But while offering up certain suggestions to move a bill through the Senate, Tucker added “I’m not optimistic of major cybersecurity legislation passing in this upcoming lame duck.”

Meanwhile, also covering the Heritage Foundation’s forum and the post-midterm quack-fest, Federal News Radio reported that two Senate cyber bills will remain on deck, including Sens. Bond (R-Mo.) and Hatch’s (R-Utah) bill, the National Cyberinfrastructure Protection Act, and the widely-supported legislation, the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, backed by Sens. Lieberman (I-Conn.), Collins (R-Maine) and Carper (D-Del.)

The hold-up on the latter?

According to the report, “prior to lawmakers leaving town to campaign for re-election, the measure was bogged down over disputes over which agency should be responsible for private sector cybersecurity, and how much authority the White House should have over private sector networks in the event of a cyber emergency.”

But  the debate over White House cyber authority isn’t going anywhere, even after the lame duck session has sizzled and the 112th Congress begins to take its course.

With the controversy coined as the Internet ‘kill switch,’ both private and public sector servants alike will continue to question whether or not the president should have the ultimate authority to shutdown the nation’s networks in the event of a major cyber attack on the US.

Meanwhile, it seems that the verdict is already out, and pro-kill switchers won’t have to search too far for support.

According to a recent study released by Unisys Security Index, CNET reports that “a majority 61 percent of Americans polled [believe] the president should have the power to control or effectively ‘kill’ portions of the Internet if key US systems (military, financial, electrical) were hit by a malicious cyber attack from a foreign government.”

Noting national security and financial security as the two largest areas of concern to Americans, the study also concluded that “more than half (59 percent) said they were extremely or very concerned about the country’s national security in relation to war or terrorism, 57 percent were concerned about identify theft, and 57 percent were concerned about credit card and debit card fraud.”

So while Congress may be ducking out cybersecurity this November, make no mistake that they will be able to dodge the debate in upcoming 112th Congressional new year.

Additional cybersecurity news follows:

The Online Threat:  Should we be worried about a cyber war? (The New Yorker)

Despite scare talk, attacks on Pentagon networks drop (Wired)

Iranian Cyber Army joins botnet business (InformationWeek)

Cyber attack on human rights charity (UK Press Association)

To improve cybersecurity the government must enhance its partnership with the private sector (Federal News Radio)

Cybersecurity…what is it? (Federal Times)

Cyber ‘epidemic’ grows more urgent (Government Computer News)

Has the threat of cyber war been overstated? (Crunch Gear)

Was China behind cyber attack on Nobel Peace Prize website? (Christian Science Monitor)

Retailers face an increased threat of cyber attack, new study says (Internet Retailer)

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