Cybersecurity News Round-Up: House, Senate & DHS Cyber Initiatives

With privacy issues off the tech agenda, appearing too hot for Congress to handle, cybersecurity made its way back to the forefront in both the House and Senate this week.

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Cybersecurity News Round-Up: 2/20/2012

With privacy issues off the tech agenda, appearing too hot for Congress to handle, cybersecurity made its way back to the forefront in both the House and Senate this week.

On Wednesday, the House Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies approved H.R. 3674, The Promoting and Enhancing Cybersecurity and Information Sharing Effectiveness Act of 2011 (The PrECISE Act).

Sponsored by Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Cali.), the PrECISE Act serves as an amendment to the Homeland Security Act of 2002, aiming for the development and growth of partnerships between the public and private sectors, with more clearly defined roles for each, in an effort to enhance security for Federal networks and the nation’s critical infrastructure.

The 45-page bill goes on to call for “the dissemination of timely and actionable terrorist and other cybersecurity threat, vulnerability, mitigation, and warning information, including alerts, advisories, indicators, signatures, and mitigation and response measures, to improve the security and protection of Federal systems and critical infrastructure information systems.”

To take up the plan, the bill suggests initial expenses would tally up to $10 million “for each of fiscal years 2013, 2014, and 2015.”


Meanwhile, over in the Senate, cybersecurity legislation is not moving at Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) projected pace.  According to Bloomberg, the much-anticipated Senate cyber legislation is yet to be released, despite Sen. Reid’s plan to bring the bill to a full floor debate by February 17.

“I always make mistakes setting those deadlines,” said Reid in an interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday, prior to a private Senate cybersecurity meeting with White House officials.

According to Politico Morning Tech, some of President Obama’s security notables, including chief counterterrorism advisor John Brennan, Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano were all in on the closed-door cyber session.


But cybersecurity wasn’t completely off the record this week for DHS Sec. Napolitano, who took up the topic on Monday during her “State of America’s Homeland Security” address at the National Press Club in Washington.

Reporting that the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team responded to more than 100,000 credible cyber attacks and incidents in 2011, Sec. Napolitano said that the agency was able to deliver more than 5,000 “actionable alerts” to federal, state and private sectors, helping to protect both government and public networks.

“We continue to work with the private sector, other government national security and law enforcement agencies and the international community to mitigate the risks and reduce the potential for a malicious actor to be successful,” said Napolitano.  “And we are working with our international law enforcement partners to share expertise and resources to combat electronic crimes such as identity and intellectual property theft, network intrusions, and a range of financial crimes.”

But beyond the U.S., it seems Napolitano and her team may have their work cut out for them, as cyber attacks continue to sweep the globe.  For a closer look at the international state of cybersecurity, check out some of the latest hacking headlines below.


Michelle Kincaid is a DC-based public affairs professional specializing in technology policy. She is also founder of the blog CybersecurityNews.org.  Follow her on Twitter @OnCybersecurity.


Cyber attacks reported around the globe:

European parliament website under cyber attack (AFP)

Cyber attack brings down key Palestinian websites (Associated Press)

Cyber attack disrupts website of Japanese nuclear crisis panel (Japan Times)

Two Irish websites taken down in ‘denial of service’ attack (Inside Ireland)

Brazilian hackers attack State Bank website (Voice of Russia)

Lithuanian central bank hit by cyber attack (AFP)

Kenyan officials say government sites hit by Indonesian hacker (CSO Online)

Michelle Kincaid is a DC-based public affairs professional specializing in technology policy. She is creator of the blog CybersecurityNews.org.