White House Approves Cybersecurity Bill

| April 24, 2015

With the recent breaches of computer security in the private sector and government, Washington has passed a series of measures meant to help the problem. The measures are meant to push companies into sharing access to their internal computer networks and data with federal investigators. The final legislation hasn’t been completed yet, but its meant to be a positive move by the federal government to look into the actions and repercussions of network breaches experienced by the likes of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s recent debacle with its film The Interview.

National Security

National Security

Cyber Security Bill

The bill has had many years of false starts, and been a thorn in the side of the Obama administration. The House measure, already embraced by the White House passed 307 to 116 votes. The challenges faced by business when it comes to crime in cyberspace is starting to sink in with lawmakers, Paul Kurtz commented, who has worked in cyber security for the US Government. Its widely acknowledged that companies via firewalls and their own security performance, can no longer fight the bad guys without the help of government.

Legal Liability Protection

A big part of the legislation presented by the House bill provides protection to companies that share their cyber threat and security breaches information with each other, and with the government. Negotiators of the bill also reiterated the importance of critical privacy protection measures. Data being shared with the government would have to undergo 2 rounds of personal information washing. FIrstly by the company before it hands its data to the government, and then secondly by the government agency that analyses the data. This has been widely agreed as critical in helping companies comply with the law.

Security Bill Challenges

Its been a conflict between republicans and democrats over the issue of the security of the nation’s computer networks. Republicans have over the last decade expressed concern about the burden placed on the private sector or any law similar to this bill being introduced, while democrats have argued for more far reaching privacy protection mechanisms. In 2012 lawmakers grappled with cybersecurity legislation that failed twice getting introduced over concerns that the private sector would be too heavily burdened by the measures. The exposure of the government’s surveillance programs into american and global lives by the whistleblower edward snowdon in 2013 further made the issue of security measures being handled correctly in the view of the publics anger.

Business Vulnerabilities

February 2015 saw the nation’s second-largest health insurer Anthem hacked and nearly 80 million records of people stolen. Hackers gained access to records of names, email address, social security numbers, and street addresses. Following the security breach of superstore Target’s records they have just come to an agreement where they have to reimburse MasterCard a total of $19 million for the losses associated with the 40 million credit and debit card theft that took place in December 2013.

Cross Party Agreement

If there is one thing that both Democrats and Republicans can agree on, and thats the poor track record of the government when it comes to safeguarding and protecting the public’s information and privacy. The Democrat of Colorado, Jared Polis, and Republican of California Darrell Issa echoed each others comments, that since 9/11 the government had come to invade more and more of the private lives of people while allowing the public to know less and less about that they were doing. Senator Susan Collins, the Republican of Maine commented that although they would see a cybersecurity bill signed into law, it wouldn’t be as strong as they hoped to prevent the abuse of critical infrastrure.

Final Amendments

Security experts have agreed that the government will benefit from the sharing of all this information. The effect of this legislation will have a positive effect on not only national security, but also on the economy said Mr Kurz. The White House issued a statement on Tuesday the 21st that they had commended the effort that had taken place in the House to move the bill forward. They did however raise concerns that the liability protection was so sweeping, that it might backfire and instead prevent companies from reporting their security breaches and cyber threats. There was mostly cross party agreement and many of the representatives were won over, including Democrat of California, Adam Schiff, who opposed the bill the previous year.

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