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White House 'wants Feds to draw up cyber-defences' for power plants

Crack council to oversee water and electricity supplies

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The White House is reportedly getting all federal agencies together to develop voluntary cybersecurity guidelines for power, water and other critical infrastructure companies.

The Feds will get 90 days to propose the regulations and put together a new cybersecurity council at the Department of Homeland Security with agents from the Defence, Justice and Commerce Departments and the Director of National Intelligence, a former cybersecurity official let on to Reuters.

The draft executive order from the Obama-led administration apparently includes bits out of The US Cybersecurity Act 2012, which was defeated in the Senate over the summer after opposition from industry and Republicans. Despite the bill's defeat, some government officials are still worried about the security of critical infrastructures.

Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman urged President Barack Obama yesterday to use the "full extent of his executive powers" to help cybersecurity.

"I urge you to explore any means at your disposal that would encourage regulators to make mandatory the standards developed by the Department of Homeland Security pursuant to your Executive Order so we can guarantee that our most critical infrastructure will be defended against attacks from our adversaries," the senator wrote.

"In addition, I urge you to consider using your authority to strengthen information sharing mechanisms to the extent possible under current law. The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 contained important provisions that would have allowed companies and the Government to share cybersecurity threat information while protecting and preserving the rights and liberties we hold dear."

A spokeswoman for the administration's National Security Council confirmed that a draft order was being considered but didn't give any details. ®

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