Growing Exposure of Cybersecurity Issues

Earlier this week, The Atlantic’s Shane Harris reported on the 60 Minutes piece (mentioned in the previous post) highlighting cybersecurity issues facing the US. Harris’ piece provides a few telling quotes about the ramifications of prime time exposure for these issues: “For starters, millions of Americans now know that it’s possible to plunge a city into darkness via the Internet…But 60 Minutes has a unique ability to condense information and deliver it to a mass audience in prime time.”

In other words, a prime time television show has neatly packaged cybersecurity issues for the general public, making many more average citizens aware of government preparedness or inaction in this arena. Will this increased exposure place greater pressure on the President live up to his promise of naming a cybersecurity coordinator? It is unlikely that one broadcast can produce such a groundswell, but hopefully it helps fuel such a trend.

DHS has already established a new cybersecurity center; ideally, a specialized federal official with discretion over resources will not be far behind.

New Cyber Security Center at DHS

Today, Voice of America News reports that the Department of Homeland Security has opened a new National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center. The center will be focused on averting cybersecurity breaches by hackers and state actors.

Assistant Secretary of Cybersecurity and Communications, Gregory Schaffer, said that this center will improve the efficiency and effectivness of US cybersecurity measures.

Cybersecurity's Need for More National Resources

Today at the Huffington Post, Sarah Granger, founder of PublicEdge, writes about America’s need to devote greater resources to cybersecurity. Although Granger’s piece addresses America’s cybersecurity needs from a broader policy perspective, her HuffPo piece also points toward a piece of legislation that is currently sitting in committee in the Senate.

S.773, the Cybersecurity Act of 2009, was introduced in April 2009 by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and currently has bipartisan support with Sens. Bayh (D-IN), Nelson (D-FL), and Snowe (R-ME) listed as cosponsors. Following the bill’s introduction, it was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. While it may take some time to get the bill out of committee, the findings in the bill’s full text (see section 2) indicate just how urgent the need is to protect cyberspace.

Even after this legislation (modest in its goals, by Granger’s assessment) is passed, there are many major challenges that face a good domestic policy. For example: Section 21 of the Bill, International Norms and Cybersecurity Deterrance Measures, speaks to the need to work with other states and foreign institutions, so that cyberlaw can coherrently govern activity that affects multiple states. Nevertheless, as Granger suggests, this bill is a start in the right direction.