Cybersecurity


House moves to protect grid from cyber threats

The House has voted to give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) additional powers to protect the country’s bulk power system from cyber-related attacks and other types of threats.

Members of the House passed the bill, sponsored by Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), by a voice vote on June 9. The measure would:

  • Authorize FERC to issue orders for emergency measures to protect the reliability of either the bulk power system or the defense critical electric infrastructure when the president identifies an imminent security threat to the power grid.
  • Have the president designate for FERC up to 100 U.S. facilities that are critical to the country’s defense and vulnerable to an electric energy supply disruption.
  • Have the Electric Reliability Organization submit reliability standards to FERC designed to protect from a geomagnetic storm event.
  • Direct FERC to require an owner or operator of defense-critical electric infrastructure to put in place measures to protect against identified vulnerabilities if they have been determined not to have been adequately deal with otherwise.
  • Direct the energy secretary to establish a program to develop technical expertise to protect power systems against problems caused by geomagnetic storms or attacks using electronic communications or electromagnetic pulse.

“The electric grid’s vulnerability to cyber and other attacks is one of the single greatest threats to our national security,” Markey, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy and Environment Subcommittee, said after the bill passed.

Posted on Jun 10, 2010 at 7:21 PM0 comments


National Security Strategy: Digital infrastructure protection a 'national security priority'

Protecting the United States’ digital infrastructure is a national security priority, according to the Obama administration’s new National Security Strategy released today.

That statement came in the “Secure Cyberspace” section of the 52-page strategy document that also reiterates President Barack Obama’s May 2009 assessment that the country's digital infrastructure is a “strategic national asset.”

The overall strategy describes the administration’s thinking on a range of topics from counterterrorism to use of military force and diplomacy to bolstering education and science. It includes several references specifically on securing cyberspace:

“Cybersecurity threats represent one of the most serious national security, public safety and economic challenges we face as a nation. The very technologies that empower us to lead and create also empower those who would disrupt and destroy. They enable our military superiority, but our unclassified government networks are constantly probed by intruders. Our daily lives and public safety depend on power and electric grids, but potential adversaries could use cyber vulnerabilities to disrupt them on a massive scale. The Internet and e-commerce are keys to our economic competitiveness, but cyber criminals have cost companies and consumers hundreds of millions of dollars and valuable intellectual property.

"The threats we face range from individual criminal hackers to organized criminal groups, from terrorist networks to advanced nation states. Defending against these threats to our security, prosperity, and personal privacy requires networks that are secure, trustworthy, and resilient. Our digital infrastructure, therefore, is a strategic national asset, and protecting it—while safeguarding privacy and civil liberties—is a national security priority. We will deter, prevent, detect, defend against, and quickly recover from cyber intrusions and attacks by:

"Investing in People and Technology: To advance that goal, we are working across the government and with the private sector to design more secure technology that gives us the ability to better protect and to improve the resilience of critical government and industry systems and networks. We will continue to invest in the cutting-edge research and development necessary for the innovation and discovery we need to meet these challenges. We have begun a comprehensive national campaign to promote cybersecurity awareness and digital literacy from our boardrooms to our classrooms and to build a digital workforce for the 21st century.

"Strengthening Partnerships: Neither government nor the private sector nor individual citizens can meet this challenge alone—we will expand the ways we work together. We will also strengthen our international partnerships on a range of issues, including the development of norms for acceptable conduct in cyberspace; laws concerning cybercrime; data preservation, protection, and privacy; and approaches for network defense and response to cyberattacks. We will work with all the key players—including all levels of government and the private sector, nationally and internationally—to investigate cyber intrusion and to ensure an organized and unified response to future cyber incidents. Just as we do for natural disasters, we have to have plans and resources in place beforehand.”

Posted on May 27, 2010 at 7:21 PM1 comments


It's official: DOD Cyber Command activated

The Defense Department officially activated its new Cyber Command on May 21, with Army Gen. Keith Alexander as its leader.

The Senate approved Alexander to become a four-star general and lead the new command on May 7. The command that will integrate the military’s offensive and defensive cyber capabilities was ordered last June by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

“By establishing CYBERCOM, we put a single military commander in charge of monitoring and defending this virtual theater, just as other commanders bear responsibility for geographic theaters,” Gates said in remarks prepared for the new command’s activation ceremony on May 21. “The purpose and jurisdiction of this command is clear: to defend the military’s operational networks against attacks.”

The Cyber Command is located at Fort Meade, Md., which is also the headquarters for the National Security Agency, which Alexander also heads.

Posted on May 24, 2010 at 7:21 PM0 comments


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