Legislation introduced to curb cyber attacks targeting nation's critical industries

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In an effort to better secure the nation's “most critical assets,” such as industries that manage energy and water supplies and the financial sector, lawmakers have introduced new cyber security legislation.

The bill, called the National Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection Act of 2013, was introduced Wednesday as a bipartisan effort by four lawmakers: Michael McCaul, R-Texas (chairman of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee); Congressman Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss.; Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, D-N.Y.; and Patrick Meehan, R-Pa. (chairman of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies on Homeland Security for the U.S. House of Representatives).

In a Wednesday release, the House Committee on Homeland Security said that the legislation “strengthens the cyber security of the nation's 16 critical infrastructure sectors, as well as the federal government by codifying, strengthening and providing oversight of the cyber security mission of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – the agency responsible for ensuring the security of our critical infrastructure.”

The legislation aims to support private-public cooperation to keep the nation abreast of threats from “hackers and other states seeking to steal, disrupt or destroy” the nation's assets.

The 54-page bill (PDF) lays out how real-time threat detection can be improved via the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) and seeks to ensure that the National Cybcersecurity Incident Response Plan is updated and implemented regularly.  

The legislation would also amend the SAFETY Act, “to establish a threshold for qualifying cyber incidents” so private entities are encouraged to relay their security procedures, in order to gain liability protections should a cyber attack strike. The SAFETY Act, which stands for “support anti-terrorism by fostering effective technologies,” was introduced in 2002.

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