Sen. Bill, Seeks Broad Powers to Fight Cyber Attacks

April 14, 2009

(ChattahBox)—President Obama is taking cyber threats to vital US infrastructure seriously. After a recent review by government security officials of our electric grid infrastructure, it was discovered hackers, probably Russian or Chinese, had already penetrated the system. The Cybersecurity Act of 2009, sponsored by Senators, Republican Olympia Snowe and Democrat Jay Rockefeller, seeks broad presidential powers to take over vital private networks, during cyber attacks that threaten the US, which include shutting down the Internet if necessary.

The Cybersecurity Act is seeking to coordinate all the functions needed to combat cyber attacks under one agency headed by a Cybersecurity Czar, currently spread out among the Pentagon, NSA, Commerce and Homeland Security.

The Bill grants expansive presidential powers to take over private infrastructures under attack, which provide vital resources, such as water, sewer, electricity and banking. The Bill states, “the president may order a cybersecurity emergency and order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic.”

Senator Snowe says the Bill is in line with recommendations made by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, supported by many, both in industry and government. Snowe says the US is vulnerable to cyber attacks and cyber espionage, which now and in the future, will present the biggest threat to national security.

Senator Rockefeller points out, a cyber attack could threaten people’s lives with a disruption to traffic lights, rail networks, water and electricity.

The Bill also will impose standardized, federal cyber-security measures on vital private networks, to ensure network infrastructure is not vulnerable to attack.

Critics of the bill are fearful the language is too broad, defining what is a vital infrastructure and what constitutes an emergency.

The Cybersecurity Act is still in draft form and is making its way through the senate.



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