Legislation to Give DHS Power Over Private Networks

Friday, November 19, 2010

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Proposed legislation in the House of Representatives would give the Department of Homeland Security new authority to enforce cyber security standards aimed at shoring up private sector computer networks considered critical to national security.

Communications, banking and utility companies would subsequently find themselves answering to DHS in regards to information system security practices as outlined in the Homeland Security Cyber and Physical Infrastructure Protection Act.

"This bill will provide the DHS with the authority and resources needed to adequately protect our Nation’s cyberspace and infrastructure. I believe the security of our cyber infrastructure is connected to our national security. This bill will protect our country from a growing risk of ‘hacks’ and better allow the Department to fulfill its duties of protecting our nation,” said bill sponsor Representative Yvette Clark (D-N.Y.).

The bill is also sponsored by Representative Jane Harman (D-Calif.), and supported by House Homeland Security chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.). The proposed legislation is on top of more than three dozen other cyber security bills already in congressional committees.

The big difference here is that the proposal aims to increase the reach of DHS specifically, as opposed to concentrating powers in a cabinet level position at the White House. Other bills may allow for presidential Internet "kill-switch" powers in the case of a national crisis.

The proposed legislation follows a recent survey that revealed vulnerabilities in SCADA and critical infrastructure networks administered by private companies represents a serious national security threat.

The report found that one third of the companies queried indicate they are equipped to counter future attacks, and an equal number believe they are not prepared to defend their systems.

Source: http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/129879-house-bill-would-give-dhs-authority-over-private-sector-networks

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