With the Senate back in session and time running out to pass legislation, intelligence officials weighed in again this week, urging members of Congress to take action.
Speaking at an event held Monday by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), director of the National Security Agency and head of the US Cyber Command Gen. Keith Alexander advised that cybersecurity legislation is essential in protecting the nation from emerging threats, including attacks that could come from the advancing cyber capabilities of terrorist group al-Qaida.
“The conflict is growing, the probability for crisis is mounting,” said Gen. Alexander at AEI, according to the Associated Press. “While we have the time, we should think about and enact those things that we need to ensure our security in this area. Do it now, before a crisis.”
Reacting to Gen. Alexander’s remarks, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (HSGAC), on Tuesday urged his colleagues to consider the general’s call to action.
“General Alexander offered a startling set of statistics yesterday on the losses our nation is suffering because of cyber espionage and cyber crime,” Lieberman said in a statement. “The general estimated that the US loses $250 billion annually in intellectual property theft and $338 billion annually in financial theft. If those numbers don’t argue for improving our cybersecurity – both in the public and private domains – I don’t know what will.”
Lieberman, a cosponsor of the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, has been working in the past months to consider several provisions to his proposed cyber bill, meanwhile going up against Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who, back in March, introduced a competing bill, the SECURE IT Act.
But according to former National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency Director Michael Hayden, who testified Wednesday before the HSGAC, any cybersecurity legislation would be better than no cybersecurity legislation at all, and every piece of proposed legislation should be passed.
“Any potential problems can be ironed out later,” Hayden said, according to the National Journal. “I’d do them all. And I would keep an open mind [and] adjust fire in a year or two.”
But for now, the challenges for Congress passing just one piece of cyber legislation this session will likely put Hayden’s hopes for enacting multiple bills on hold, as more cyber suggestions and calls to action are likely to be heard on the Hill.
Following are some additional cyber headlines you may have missed:
DHS cyber director leaving for the private sector (Federal News Radio)
Pentagon digs in on cyberwar front (Wall Street Journal)
Drones may be another target for hackers (PCWorld)
Cyber warfare: New battlefield, new rules (Federal Computer Week)
How to make your website hacker-proof (Entrepreneur)
NBC, Google stage ‘war games’ to prepare for Olympic hacker attacks (Wall Street Journal)