Alexander Appeals for Cybersecurity Legislation

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Sept. 25, 2013, 11:02 a.m.

The head of U.S. Cy­ber Com­mand on Wed­nes­day ar­gued cy­ber­at­tacks on U.S. net­works will in­crease if Con­gress does not pass cy­ber­se­cur­ity le­gis­la­tion that would com­pel crit­ic­al-in­fra­struc­ture pro­viders — in­clud­ing nuc­le­ar-power plants — to share more in­form­a­tion with the gov­ern­ment when they are hacked, the Wash­ing­ton Post re­por­ted.

Al­ex­an­der, who also dir­ects the Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency, im­plored at­tendees at a Wash­ing­ton con­fer­ence to think of po­ten­tial cy­ber at­tacks on Wall Street com­put­ing net­works.

“What we can tell you is how they went down and how bad they were, but if we can’t work with in­dustry, if we can’t share in­form­a­tion with them, we can’t stop it,” the Post quoted him as say­ing at the Bil­ling­ton Cy­ber­se­cur­ity Sum­mit.

The four-star Army gen­er­al noted how ter­ror­ists are be­com­ing more ad­ept at cy­ber at­tacks, ac­cord­ing to Politico.

“Over 950 people were killed in Kenya, Syr­ia, Ir­aq, Ye­men and Afgh­anistan,” Al­ex­an­der said, re­fer­ring to vi­ol­ence in those coun­tries, “and we’re dis­cuss­ing more eso­ter­ic things here. Why? Be­cause we’ve stopped the ter­ror­ist at­tacks here.”

His com­ments came a day after a seni­or Sen­ate Demo­crat said she has draf­ted le­gis­la­tion in her cham­ber that would be akin to the Cy­ber In­tel­li­gence Shar­ing and Pro­tec­tion Act, which the Re­pub­lic­an-led House passed in April.

Sen­ate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee Chair­wo­man Di­anne Fein­stein (D-Cal­if.) said she plans to try to ad­vance her draft bill, ac­cord­ing to the Hill news­pa­per’s tech­no­logy blog.

The House-passed CISPA is in­ten­ded make it easi­er for crit­ic­al-in­fra­struc­ture pro­viders to leg­ally share more cy­ber-threat data with each oth­er and with the gov­ern­ment, and also to en­cour­age them to col­lab­or­ate as such. The bill has been viewed by in­dustry as a less-oner­ous al­tern­at­ive to thwarted Sen­ate cy­ber­se­cur­ity le­gis­la­tion craf­ted last year by former Sen­at­or Joseph Lieber­man (I-Conn.) and cur­rent Sen­at­or Susan Collins (R-Maine), which the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce charged would lead to ex­cess­ive reg­u­la­tion.

How Fein­stein’s po­ten­tial CISPA-like bill would fare in the Sen­ate and with Pres­id­ent Obama re­mains to be seen. The White House said Obama could veto the House ver­sion of the bill, which it ar­gued it would not sig­ni­fic­antly pro­tect cit­izens’ data pri­vacy.

Al­ex­an­der made his Wed­nes­day ap­peal for passing a cy­ber­se­cur­ity meas­ure while such le­gis­la­tion does not ap­pear to be ad­van­cing in Con­gress. Law­makers and cy­ber­se­cur­ity ad­voc­ates said the chance of move­ment has de­creased even more since former NSA con­tract­or Ed­ward Snowden leaked in­tel­li­gence doc­u­ments to the me­dia de­tail­ing the agency’s wide­spread sur­veil­lance activ­it­ies. Some in Con­gress are more fo­cused now on lim­it­ing NSA’s sur­veil­lance powers.

Al­ex­an­der ap­pealed at the Wash­ing­ton con­fab for in­dustry to “work with us on cy­ber le­gis­la­tion.”

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