WASHINGTON – The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, led by Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., unanimously reported out major cybersecurity legislation Thursday that would “fundamentally reshape” the way the federal government protects public and private sector cyber networks.
The Committee also reported out the nomination of John Pistole to be the new Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration.
The Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010, S.3480, crafted by Lieberman, Collins, and Senator Tom Carper, D-De., would create a White House Office of Cyberspace Policy to lead federal and private sector efforts to secure critical cyber networks and assets. The office would be led by a Senate-confirmed director who would be accountable to the public. The bill also creates a new center within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to implement cybersecurity policies as they pertain to federal and private sector networks.
“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. It takes a comprehensive, risk-based, and collaborative approach to addressing critical vulnerabilities in our own defenses. 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.”
Collins said: “It’s important that we realize that the threat of a catastrophic cyber attack is not theoretical. It’s very real. It is not a matter of ‘if’ such an attack is going to occur, but when. The Sergeant at Arms has reported that the computer systems in Executive Branch agencies and in congressional agencies are now under cyber attack an average of 1.8 billion times a month. That is extraordinary. Cyber crime costs our national economy billions of dollars annually. And intelligence officials have warned over and over again that these attacks are becoming more and more sophisticated. 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.”
Carper said: “Over the past few decades, our society has become increasingly dependent on the internet, including our military, government, and businesses of all kinds,” said Sen. Carper. “While we have reaped enormous benefits from this powerful technology, unfortunately our enemies have identified cyber space as an ideal 21st century battlefield. 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 cyber space. 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.”
The cybersecurity legislation and Pistole’s nomination were reported out of Committee by voice vote, en bloc, with:
• S.674, the Federal Supervisor Training Act of 2009
• The nomination of Dennis J. Toner to be a Governor of the U.S. Postal Service
• Three postal naming bills