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Senate Homeland Security Committee OK’s Cyber Bill

The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee yesterday approved a comprehensive cybersecurity bill that would shape how the federal government protects public and private sector cyber networks.

The bill, co-sponsored by  Sens. Joe Lieberman, Susan Collins and Tom Carper, would create a White House Office of Cyberspace Policy to lead federal and private sector initiatives to secure critical cyber networks and assets. The bill would also create a new center within the Department of Homeland Security to adopt cybersecurity policies related to federal and private sector networks.

“This legislation would fundamentally reshape the way the federal government defends America’s cyberspace,” Lieberman said. “It takes a comprehensive, risk-based, and collaborative approach to addressing critical vulnerabilities in our own defenses. We believe our bill would go a long way toward improving the security of our government and private critical infrastructure, and therefore the security of the American people.”

Speaking about the cyber threat against U.S. networks, Collins mentioned how the computer systems in the executive branch agencies and congressional agencies are attacked an average of 1.8 billion times a month.

“Cyber crime costs our national economy billions of dollars annually,” Collins said. “And intelligence officials have warned over and over again that these attacks are becoming more and more sophisticated. The fact is: We cannot fail to act. We can’t wait until there is a cyber 9/11 and say, ‘Why didn’t we act? We knew this was coming.’ The attacks are ongoing even as we meet. So we must act, and I believe we have drafted a responsible bill to do so.”

Although society has reaped enormous benefits from the use of the Internet, enemies to the United States have identified cyberspace as an ideal 21st-century battlefield, Carper said.

“We have to take steps now to modernize our approach to protecting this valuable, but vulnerable, resource,” he said. “This legislation is a vital tool that America needs to better protect cyber space.  It encourages the government and the private sector to work together to address this growing threat and provides the tools and resources for America to be successful in this critical effort.”

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