In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Sens. Joe Lieberman, Susan Collins and Tom Carper propose a “gold standard” in cybersecurity to help protect networks and computers from hackers and potentially, a “digital Pearl Harbor.“
The proposal would grant the Department of Homeland Security statutory authority to work with the private sector to identify potential risks to the nation's critical cyber infrastructure.
Once those risks have been identified, the senators said, owners and operators would choose measures to secure their systems, which DHS cybersecurity experts would review before implementation.
“This framework would produce cybersecurity ‘best practices’ that would then be available as a model for the private sector,” the senators write. While those best practices would be voluntary, the senators said, boosting security and creating industrywide standards would lead commercial networks to install them as a way to keep customers and attract new ones.
The bill would also encourage the federal government to do business only with companies that implement security from the onset, and avoid “those that try to bolt it on later.” The government's purchasing power would help push the market to produce more secure products, which would also be available to nongovernment consumers, the senators said.
“There is no such thing as 100 percent security, on- or offline, but we must strive to strengthen our defenses against those who are constantly working to do us harm. … “The alternative could be a digital Pearl Harbor “” and another day of infamy,” the senators concluded.