Obama Administration Gets Serious About Cyber Security

 @ibtimes
on May 16 2011 5:04 PM

Key members of President Barack Obama's administration stressed why an initiative on cybersecurity is imperative to protecting the nation's future.

Obama administrative officials introduced the cybersecurity legislation in a press conference on Monday. The strategy detailed Obama's vision for the role the internet plays in the future of commerce and infrastructure and how to protect it. Overall, the legislation is focused on improving cybersecurity for the American people, the country's critical infrastructure, and the Federal Government's own networks and computers.

Information technology is changing the world. We're living in a rapidly evolving digital landscape, said Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke at the press conference. This is the nation's first ever all encompassing strategy for cyberspace. This is our vision for the future of cyberspace.

Officials such as Locke, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano expressed the importance cyber space security has over the future of the country. The proposed legislation would standardize and integrate the existing patchwork of 47 state laws that would require businesses to report to a consumer when their data has been breached. It also clarifies the penalties for computer crimes, synchronizes them with other crimes.

During the press conference, the Obama officials said these initiatives would be drawn out across multiple government departments. The whole mission, they said, was bigger than one department.

There is no single agency, company, community or country that has access to the facts that can fully assess the nature of threats in cyberspace or to adequately address our current problems. We can only do that by joining forces, Holder said.

As part of the legislation, any time a government or private sector entity discovers a new computer virus or threat, it can share information about cyber threats or incidents with the others as well as the Department of Homeland Security. The legislation includes voluntary government assistance to helping industries which have suffered a cyber intrusion.

Furthermore, the proposal would update the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) and formalize DHS' current role in managing cybersecurity for the Federal Government's civilian computers and networks. It also includes legislation for implementing programs to recruit highly trained cybersecurity personnel.

Rob Strayer, Director of the Bipartisan Policy Center's National Security Preparedness Group, said he was overall pleased with the cyber security initiative released by the White House. However, he said it was not perfect as it failed to define authority in certain circumstances.

The Administration's legislative proposal marks a significant step forward to improve the nation's cyber security.  While the proposal addresses a number of cyber security vulnerabilities, it does not appear to adequately delineate the authority of the federal government to act in coordination with the private sector during a major cyber attack, Strayer said.

Follow Gabriel Perna on Twitter at @GabrielSPerna

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