White House Calls in Big Guns on Cybersecurity Act

In a conference call for reporters on August 1 put together by the White House, some heavy hitters in the administration urged passage of the Senate bill, the Cybersecurity Act of 2012. Four top U.S. officials took part in the call: John Brennan, assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; Gen. Keith Alexander, commander, U.S. Cyber Command, and director, National Security Agency; Jane Holl Lute, deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; and Eric Rosenbach, deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy. The group said that passage of the bill was "imperative" in protecting the country from a "mounting wave" of cyber assaults on critical infrastructure.

Lute told those on the call that the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) typically receives one threat report on attempted network intrusions about every 90 seconds from critical infrastructure providers and that the CERT team has deployed to "affected sites" 19 times.

Brennan noted there has been a 20 fold increase in infrastructure attacks, while Alexander said electronic attacks on critical infrastructure are progressing from simple probes to more serious destructive activity.

Rosenbach said that Lieberman’s bill would solidify DHS as the front door for action against Cyber attack, allowing the agency to work with other government intelligence and defense agencies that have parallel Cyber defense operations. The legislation, they claim, has been written to protect civil liberties.

Brennan closed by saying that he has serious concerns about the House bill, and that – once the Senate bill is passed – he hopes the privacy issues between the legislation could be worked out when it comes time for reconciliation.

Of course, there are serious doubts that the bill will be passed before the Senate's summer break begins on Friday. If the bill is so important, perhaps lawmakers should postpone their vacations to deal with it in a proper manner… The administration certainly didn't propose that lawmakers do such a thing.

Source: Government Security News

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