In a move intended to help Americans sleep more soundly in their beds at night, the White House has proposed legislation as part of a cybersecurity plan to protect the country from damaging cyberattacks.
In a statement, the White House said, “The cybersecurity vulnerabilities in our government and critical infrastructure are a risk to national security, public safety and economic prosperity.”
A report by the Wall Street Journal highlighting key parts of the legislation – similar to legislation currently being discussed in Congress – says that it is designed to encourage (rather than force) companies key to the nation’s infrastructure, such as those running financial systems, transportation and power plants, to beef up their security systems.
Progress of the bipartisan bill now depends on how fast Senator Harry Reid can pass his proposal, with Reid himself hoping it can happen this summer. The proposed law is keen to let companies in the private sector make their own plans regarding cyber security and should not dictate measures.
The US Chamber of Commerce regarded the proposal positively, calling it “the latest in a series of important actions” by the White House on the issue of cybersecurity. Critics, on the other hand, said the legislation didn’t go far enough. Stewart Baker, a former senior official at the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security in the Bush administration, said, “The administration’s proposal shows no sense of urgency.” He added, “It tells even critical industries on which our lives and society depend that they will have years before anyone from government begins to evaluate their security measures.”
Cyberattacks can cost companies billions of dollars, and in some cases can be a threat to national security. Attacks by hackers are getting bigger and bolder and are of course a serious concern for many people, not just those responsible for large institutions. It is hoped that the new legislation will go some way toward providing the US with stronger protection against such threats.
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