For a while now, cybersecurity has been a buzzword used in hopes of making national computer network security sound sexy, but there's been little legislative backbone behind measures to support federal departmental efforts. The position touted as Cybersecurity Czar has been fraught with problems in both the recent Bush administration and the new Obama team, dubbed a dead-end scapegoat job with no prospects. For technologists and security policy advocates, this has been a frustrating process. Now it looks as if change may be in the works in Congress.
Taking a moment to read some of the draft legislation currently under review - particularly in the Senate - it's worth noting that those in office are well aware that cybersecurity is a concern across the board. It's not just a political phrase to drop in hopes of greater appropriations; it really is a far-reaching problem and the language is making its way into some major bills, along with significant funds to back them up.
Take, for instance, S. 773: Cybersecurity Act of 2009. It begins with countless examples of how critical cybersecurity is in securing our infrastructure. It may not be the ideal bill for achieving systemic change, but it's a start. The bill calls for extensive resources to be allocated to recruitment and training of new personnel, and it skims the surface of the need for greater national leadership in cybersecurity.
Still, terrorists are a lot smarter than the average scam artist and the new administration is calling for over 1000 technical cybersecurity workers to help bridge the gap between existing Homeland Security and related staff and what the president and Congress see as necessary for adequate protection. This is a huge undertaking that some believe is unrealistic. The truth is: anything that relies on bits and bytes, receives signals or transmits information can be a weak point in our collective security. Responding to potential threats that widespread requires a concerted, collaborative effort. Whatever happens next with the new leadership and legislation nationally could have dramatic effects on our safety and security at home. It's worth tracking the progress.
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