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November 01, 2012

Cyber-Security Bill Vote Possible after Next Week's Election

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

There were many political observers who claimed that a Congressional proposal on cyber-security died in Congress earlier this year, but there is a possibility a compromise bill may soon come back to life.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, may re-introduce a cyber- security bill, after Tuesday's election, according to a report from Reuters.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Senator Joe Lieberman, (Ind.-CT) who is leaving the Senate and was one of the bill’s major sponsors, may drop language that would shore up protection of critical infrastructure, news reports said.

Several Republicans opposed that part of the bill.

Other parts of the bill would increase information-sharing between intelligence agencies and private companies, Reuters (News - Alert) adds.

Lieberman’s bill fell apart after supporters could only come up with 52 of the 60 Senate votes needed to move the bill to a vote.

Among those opposing the bill were some business groups who complained about “over-regulation,” Reuters said. Privacy groups claimed the bill would have led to “Internet eavesdropping,” Reuters added.

There may be new concerns about cyber-security because of recent cyber-attacks.

In addition, President Barack Obama may issue an executive order “to increase oversight of security measures in the private sector,” Reuters said. In a related matter, Jeff Ratner, senior adviser for cyber security on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, says an executive order from the White House will come and it is likely to cover some areas that may not be part of a compromise Senate bill. “Regardless of what happens on Tuesday, the executive order will move forward,” he was quoted by InfoSecurity Magazine.

“It appears as if plans for the Cybersecurity Act are still very much alive, and its provisions will be enforced by Janet Napolitano and the Department of Homeland Security,” the magazine added.

When the earlier bill lost steam after Republican opposition, Sen. Susan Collins, the ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security Committee and one of the bill's chief sponsors, said, "Rarely have I been so disappointed in the Senate's failure to come to grips with a threat to our country,” TMCnet reported.

In a related matter, the head of the National Security Agency (News - Alert) (NSA), Gen. Keith Alexander announced earlier this year that there was a 17-fold jump in the number of computer attacks on American infrastructure between 2009 and 2011.

Alexander said the attacks – which are increasingly aimed at “critical infrastructure” – took place by criminal gangs, hackers and other nations against such infrastructure as cell phone networks, computer networks, electricity grids and water supplies, TMCnet added.

Edited by Rich Steeves
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