It might not be getting much play in the news, but cybersecurity is a big deal in Congress. There have been multiple attempts to get a bill passed through both the Senate and the House, but there seems to be no compromise in sight as of yet. The NSA chief might start helping them along with some alarming news.
General Keith B. Alexander, head of the NSA, said there has been a 17-fold increase in cyberattacks against American infrastructure. The New York Times reports that these increased attacks are going after key infrastructure including electricity grids, water supplies, cellphone networks and more. A successful attack could do untold damage to major U.S. cities.
So how well prepared is the U.S. for a massive cyberattack? General Alexander puts the country's preparedness at a 3 out of 10. That's pretty sad for a country that created the Stuxnet virus that decimated Iran's nuclear program. If our country's researchers and scientists can create a virus of magnitude, why can't they protect our infrastructure from a similar attack?
General Alexander will tell you that it's all about legislation. He is pushing for the passage of the bills currently going through Congress which includes such hated legislation like CISPA and the Cybersecurity Act of 2012. Civil liberty groups like the EFF have come out against both bills.
Everybody can agree that the U.S. needs cybersecurity legislation of some sort to preserve critical infrastructure. To do away with privacy in the name of cybersecurity is a no go, however, and many Senators including Ron Wyden are coming out against what they feel is a government push to have more control of the Internet.
It remains to be seen if either bill will make it past Congress before the November election rolls around. The sponsors of the CSA have reportedly made some compromises with Republican Senators who were blocking approval in the committee stage. It could be going up for a vote as early as next week. We'll keep you updated on the progress of both bills, but one of them is going to pass if General Alexander has his way.