U.S. Cyber Commander urges Senate on electronic protections
Gen. Keith Alexander
U.S. Cyber Commander General Keith Alexander on July 31 urged U.S. senators considering new Cyber protection legislation to act sooner, rather than later.
As the Senate deliberates a variety of Cyber protection bills, Alexander threw his weight behind the revised Cybersecurity Act of 2012, sponsored by Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation chairman Jay Rockefeller, (D-WV) Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-CT), HSGAC ranking member Susan Collins, (R-ME) Select Intelligence Committee chairman Dianne Feinstein, (D-CA) and Federal Financial Management Subcommittee chairman Tom Carper (D-DE).
In letters to Senate majority leader Harry Reid, (D-NV) and minority leader Mitch McConnell, (R-KY) Alexander said information sharing alone won’t protect the core infrastructure of the U.S. from electronic assault. “Comprehensive cyber security legislation also needs to ensure that this infrastructure is sufficiently hardened and resilient, as it is the storehouse of much of our economic prosperity,” he said.
“Key to addressing this peril is the adoption of minimum security requirements to harden these networks, dissuading adversaries and making it more difficult for them to conduct a successful cyber penetration,” he added. “It is important that these requirements be collaboratively developed with industry and not be too burdensome. While I believe this can be done, I also believe that industry will require some form of incentives to make this happen.”
Alexander’s remarks were aimed at Senate Republican-backed cyber legislation that featured sharing information on Cyber threats among industries as a central protection. Some Senate Republicans, like John McCain (AZ) back bills that avoid implementing government-backed standards as too cumbersome and costly for industry to support.
Lieberman, Collins and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) were working hard on July 31 to get the Senate to approve their revised version of Cyber security legislation that would call on critical infrastructure industries to develop the standards to address threats. Compliance would be voluntary.
In remarks on the Senate floor on July 31, Mikulski appealed directly to McCain, who is a Vietnam veteran and former prisoner of war, to approve the Lieberman-sponsored bill. “I know there are patriots in this Senate who have really been the defenders of the nation in other wars. They have said themselves that they worry about the Asian Pacific. They worry about China. You know, I worry about China, too. So while we're looking at the Defense Authorization and Appropriations Bill and people want more aircraft carriers to defend us in the blue water against China, what happens if there's a cyber-attack? Now, we do know how to protect dot-mil, do we want to protect also dot-com in the same way? I think so,” she said.