Congress Wants FCC Cyber Security Updates

FCC among a list of 11 agencies who may have been affected by a July 4 service attack

In the wake of a series of cyberattacks on federal agencies, Congress included the FCC in a list of 11 agencies from which it wants cyber security updates.

In the letter, which was dated July 14, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WVA) said the inquiry was prompted by July 4 reports of service attacks, some of which had taken sites down for "a number of days."

An FCC spokesman was not aware of the FCC having been the subject of an attack. A Rockefeller spokesperson was not available to provide insight on why these 11 were sent the letters.

The others were National Railroad Passenger Corporation (AMTRAK), the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Transportation, Federal Trade Commission, NASA, the National Science Foundation, the National Transportation Safety Board, and the Federal Maritime Commission.

Among the information the FCC is looking for is what procedures the FCC has in place to respond or minimize the impact of cyber attacks, how often it tests its plans and safeguards, whether there are any "back-door" weak points in their contracts with service providers and whether they have enough people, expertise and money.

Rockefeller is co-author of a cybersecurity bill recently introduced in the Senate. The Obama administration has also made Cybersecurity a priority issue for the administration.

The FCC should be in good shape to respond. As one of his first initiatives, less than a day after taking over the commission June 29, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski called for an immediate (within 30 days) top-to-bottom review of the FCC's emergency preparedness for both natural disasters and man-made ones like cyber attacks. That included whether the FCC needed more money or people.