Cybersecurity Bill Backers Say it Could Help Prevent Cyber 9/11

Argue for proceeding to a vote on bill before Congress exits for August recess
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At press time, backers of a compromise
cybersecurity bill (S 3414) were pushing for a floor vote on the bill, arguing
passage of the bill was tantamount to heading off the next 9/11 or worse before
it happens.

Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) Wednesday invoked cloture on debate, with a
vote not coming until Friday on that motion per Senate rules.

Sen.
Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and other bill co-sponsors said that the bill had
been modified, including in meetings Wednesday morning, to make it less
regulatory and more voluntary. He said some had argued that approach--taken to
try and win over primarily Republican opponents to the bill-- was worse than no
bill. He said he disagreed, and that incentivized sufficiently, and audited,
such a voluntary approach was better than closing off the path to a bill.

The
bill's mandatory cybersecurity standards have been changed to voluntary ones,
though with government input and sign-off.

"We
can't afford to wait for a cyber 9/11 before we act on this legislation,"
said bill co-sponsor Susan Collins (R-Maine). "We are being attacked and
robbed every day and are not adequately defended," said co-sponsor Joe
Lieberman (I-Conn.). He said he was hopeful about the Friday vote on proceeding
to a vote, and said that he was hopeful the Senate would be able to pass the
bill as well.

Citing
the pre-9/11 dots that were not connected, Rockefeller said: "Today, with
a new set of warnings flashing before us, and a wide range of new challenges to
our security and safety, we again face a choice. Act now, and put in place
safeguards to protect this country and our people.  Or act later, when it
is too late. We must act now."

At
press time, Rockefeller described the following as key provisions of the bill:

  • Allow
    the government and the private sector to share threat and vulnerability
    information, while protecting privacy and civil liberties. 
  • Improve
    the security of the Federal government's networks by taking away a "checklist"
    based approach that does not make the systems more secure.
  • Clarify
    the roles and responsibilities of Federal agencies when it comes to
    cybersecurity.
  • Coordinate
    cybersecurity research and development so that the federal government has a plan
    that is kept up to date.
  • Promote public awareness of cyber vulnerabilities to ensure a better informed
    and more alert citizenry. 

Many
cyber attacks have been successful because the people using the systems do not
understand the consequences of their actions, whether it is clicking on a link
to an untrustworthy website or using a USB drive that is
unsecure.

More
meetings on the bill were planned for Thursday morning on the bill, said
Lieberman and Rockefeller.

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