Senate Endorses Plan to Ensure Government Cyber-Security

WASHINGTON – Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson (R-TN) and ranking Democrat Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) said Senate approval Thursday of the Government Information Security Act provides a new framework for managing the security of the government?s information technology systems by inserting increased accountability into the current security process. The Government Information Security Act (S.1993) passed the Senate as part of the FY ’01 Department of Defense Authorization bill (H.R. 4205).

“Effective computer security starts with effective management and this legislation will help federal agencies get a handle on managing their computer security efforts,” Thompson said. “Establishing government_wide procedures will help us prevent hackers and cyber-terrorists from wreaking havoc in our information systems.”

“If government is going to be plugged into the networked world as an active, permanent presence,” Lieberman said, “we will first have to protect the confidentiality, the integrity and, of course, the availability of the information contained on government computers. In today’s Wild West electronic environment, every precaution must be taken.”

At risk of exploitation by teen-age hackers or international cyber-terrorists is information ranging from the movement of the nation’s armed forces and deployment of our most powerful weapons, to accumulated data about the economy, to wage and tax data kept by the government on all working Americans. The Government Information Security Act addresses inadequate government management of computer security by providing a meaningful foundation from which to build more secure government computer networks. It vests overall government accountability within the highest levels of the Executive Branch; creates specific management rules for agency heads, such as requiring agency-wide security programs; and requires agencies to have an annual independent evaluation of their information security programs and practices.

Also, in an effort to bolster the government’s efforts to protect its information technology assets, the Government Information Security Act authorizes a Federal Cyber Service designed to attract new recruits to help secure government computers. The program is intended to provide scholarships in exchange for government service.