As Cybercrime Increases, Senate Calls for National Cybersecurity Adviser
Article by George Norman
On 02 Apr 2009
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in a report put together by the aforementioned law enforcement agency and the Internet Crime Complain Center (IC3), has revealed the fact that the number of Cybercrime complaints has increased considerably – by more than one third to be more precise (details here). Two US senators have introduced a new piece of legislation which provides for the naming of a national cybersecurity adviser.

The legislation proposed by Senator John D. Rockefeller IV and Senator Olympia Snowe says that a national cybersecurity adviser must be named. Said adviser must report directly to the US of A’s President (good thing the current president is the tech savvy Barack Obama, because I seriously doubt George W. Bush’s competence in the matter) and has the authority to disconnect federal or critical infrastructure networks from the net. Of course, the adviser would only resort to such means only when the networks are at risk from being attacked. This is reminiscent of our previous report on how the Smart Grid must be hacker-proof (details here).

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“We must protect our critical infrastructure at all costs -- from our water to our electricity, to banking, traffic lights and electronic health records -- the list goes on. It's an understatement to say that cybersecurity is one of the most important issues we face; the increasingly connected nature of our lives only amplifies our vulnerability to cyber attacks and we must act now,” said Democrat John D, Rockefeller.

Republican Olympia Snowe when even further in her statements and compared cybersecurity risks to hurricane Katrina: “America’s vulnerability to massive cyber crime, global cyber espionage, and cyber attacks has emerged as one of the most urgent national security problems facing our country today. Our failure to implement effective policies and procedures to protect critical infrastructure, prevent invasive intrusion and conduct an aggressive threat assessment has proven extremely consequential, putting the American information system at grave risk. It is abundantly clear we must unite on all fronts to confront this monumental challenge, if we fail to take swift action, we, regrettably, risk a cyber-Katrina.”

Making any network hacker and attack-proof is a commendable measure, but there is one bit in the proposed legislation that has industry groups all worked up, mainly the fact that the US President, upon declaring a state of national cybersecurity emergency, can “order the limitation or shutdown of internet traffic to and from any compromised federal government or United States critical infrastructure information system or network.”

According to senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology, the term national security is too vague since it has not been properly defined. Too much power, with little to no oversight, might end up in the hands of the president.

Director of Commercial Security services with Securicon adds: “There's a lot of good stuff in here, but a lot of it is easier said then done. My concern about the bill in general is around what has not been specified, will be interpreted and implemented. There is a lot of wiggle room in there.”



Tags: Cybercrime, Cybersecurity
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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As Cybercrime Increases, Senate Calls for National Cybersecurity Adviser
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