Feeds

US Congress wants hack teams for self-penetration

While girding power grid

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

The United States Congress this week delved further into the country's cybersecurity preparedness as members introduced two bills designed to protect federal networks and electric power grids from attacks.

One bill, dubbed the US Information and Communications Enhancement Act of 2009, would mandate the formation of hacker teams that would actively try to penetrate government networks. Current laws focus more on generating reports that detail vulnerabilities and defenses to them than putting security into practice, many security experts say.

Sponsored by Senator Tom Carper of Delaware, the bill would also establish a National Office for Cyberspace that would be responsible for carrying out cybersecurity policy. Additionally, it would create a council of chief information security officers who would stay in touch with CISOs from each federal agency to share information about the latest threats.

A separate bill introduced this week by Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi is aimed at strengthening the US power grid against attack. The so-called Critical Electric Infrastructure Protection Act would give federal regulators more power to respond to emergencies involving infrastructure that transmits electricity. Among other things, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission could issue "emergency rules or orders" when an attack is imminent.

The bills come three weeks after a separate piece of legislation was introduced in the Senate that would give the president unprecedented authority over the nation's critical infrastructure, including the power to shut down or limit traffic on private networks during emergencies.

While by no means perfect, the flurry of bills is a cause for hope, some security experts believe.

"My reaction to all of these is that it seems the nation has reached a tipping point - Congress is speaking for the country saying this problem is bad enough to act - CSIS said we are losing the cyber wars," Alan Paller, director of research for the SANS Institute, wrote in an email, referring to a recent report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Urgency is high. It is time to stop talking and start fixing." ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
China hacked US Army transport orgs TWENTY TIMES in ONE YEAR
FBI et al knew of nine hacks - but didn't tell TRANSCOM
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.