ENR GOP: Cybersecurity
Jul 17, 2012 (Congressional Documents and Publications/ContentWorks via COMTEX) --
I know everyone is looking forward to ENR's hearing tomorrow morning examining what's been done to ensure the electric grid is protected from cyber attacks.
While I'm looking forward to seeing all of you (and to handfuls of the chocolate-covered espresso beans that my Democratic counterpart, Bill Wicker, so generously provides at every hearing) I wanted to remind everyone that electric utilities are the only critical infrastructure sector that already have mandatory and enforceable cyber security standards in place. Congress included cyber protection for the electric grid in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Let me know if you'd like me to send you the language from EPAct '05.
That is one reason why Sen. Murkowski is opposed to the Cybersecurity Act (S. 2105), which would give the Department of Homeland Security unprecedented new powers to designate and regulate critical infrastructure. This all-or-nothing approach does not have the votes to proceed in the Senate, and the House has shown no interest in taking it up. It's therefore not going to become law anytime soon.
In the meantime, Sen. Murkowski and other Senate ranking Republicans have introduced a legislative alternative (S. 3342) to tackle what they see as the most pressing issue regarding cyber security -
information sharing between the federal government and industry. There is bipartisan support for this issue, and such a proposal could actually pass both chambers of Congress this year. While Sen. Murkowski acknowledges that this measure may not address every concern regarding cybersecurity, it is a positive step forward and it is achievable this Congress.
S. 3342 - SECURE IT Act Highlights
* Information Sharing: Encourages voluntary information sharing within the private sector and between the private sector and the government; requires information sharing only by federal contractors providing electronic services to federal agencies and only for cyber threat information related to that contract; provides liability protection for the use and disclosure of cyber threat information; Provides clear FOIA and antitrust protections; Prohibits information from being used for an unfair competitive advantage.
* FISMA Reform - updates federal information management by requiring real-time monitoring of federal systems and maintains current separation of national security systems;
* Criminal Penalties - updates criminal statutes to enhance the authorities and criminal penalties available to the Department of Justice to prosecute cyber criminals. The HSGAC bill does not address criminal penalties;
* Research - streamlines and combines existing R&D programs to focus on advanced cyber security research. No new funding is authorized.
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