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US cyber bill unveiled to enhance DHS cybersecurity capacity

Warwick Ashford

Several Democrats in the US House of Representatives have announced they have introduced legislation that would expand the cybersecurity powers of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Bennie Thompson, of Mississippi, the outgoing chairman of the Homeland Security committee, proposed the 2010 Homeland Security Cyber and Physical Infrastructure Protection Act, along with co-sponsors Jane Harman of California and Yvette Clarke of New York state.

The legislation is aimed at enhancing the DHS cybersecurity capacity by:

  • Authorising the department's office of cybersecurity and communications
  • Creating a new cybersecurity compliance division to oversee the establishment and enforcement of performance-based standards for government agencies and private networks determined to be critical.
  • Requiring DHS to work with network operators to develop tailored security plans that meet risk-based, performance-based standards.
  • Requiring DHS to share threat intelligence and protect proprietary information.

"From a security and good-government standpoint, the way to deliver better cybersecurity is to leverage, modify, and enhance existing structures and efforts, rather than make wholesale bureaucratic changes," said Thompson.

Harman, who is chair of the subcommittee on intelligence, information sharing and terrorism risk assessment, said cyber attacks, whether originated by other countries or sub-national groups, were a grave and growing threat to government and the private sector.

"This bill provides new tools to DHS to confront them effectively and make certain that civil liberties are protected," she said.


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