Comprehensive Cyber Bill Clears Committee

Yesterday, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved comprehensive cybersecurity legislation. The new bill, The Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010, S.3480, was sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman, Susan Collins and Tom Carper and will create a permanent, Senate-confirmed cybersecurity coordinator within the White House.

The bill will also create a new office at the Department of Homeland Security to handle cybersecurity issues.

“Catastrophic cyber attack is no longer a fantasy or a fiction,“ Lieberman said. “It is a clear and present danger. This legislation would fundamentally reshape the way the federal government defends America's cyberspace.”

The bill also looks to reform FISMA, which has often been criticized as not being effective in real-time but rather and exercise in compliance.

“It takes a comprehensive, risk-based, and collaborative approach to addressing critical vulnerabilities in our own defenses,” Lieberman said. “We believe our bill would go a long way toward improving the security of our government and private critical infrastructure, and therefore the security of the American people.“

Citing recent reports that Congress and the Executive branch come under cyber attack approximately 1.8 billion times per month, Collins said, “The fact is: We cannot fail to act. We can't wait until there is a cyber 9/11 and say, “˜Why didn't we act? We knew this was coming.' The attacks are ongoing even as we meet. So we must act, and I believe we have drafted a responsible bill to do so.“

The bill was unanimously approved by a voice vote.

“While we have reaped enormous benefits from this powerful technology, unfortunately our enemies have identified cyberspace as an ideal 21st century battlefield,” Carper said. “We have to take steps now to modernize our approach to protecting this valuable, but vulnerable, resource.  This legislation is a vital tool that America needs to better protect cyberspace.  It encourages the government and the private sector to work together to address this growing threat and provides the tools and resources for America to be successful in this critical effort.“

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