Vice Admiral Mike McConnell, USN (ret.), former Director of National Intelligence, and the Hon. Michael Chertoff, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, discussed the pending Cybersecurity Act of 2012 at an event hosted by the George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute Wednesday morning. They were joined in a roundtable discussion by invited senior staff members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.
The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 is bipartisan legislation that would give the Homeland Security Department power to identify vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure and set regulations requiring private companies who operate critical networks to improve security or face penalties.
The bill also requires the State Department to identify cyber threats and reward foreign aid to cooperative governments while issuing sanctions against those governments that do nothing to stop cyber attacks.
The Obama administration is pressing for quick passage of the bill, while the U.S. Chamber of Commerce fears it would impose undue regulatory burdens on companies.
Last week, Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Homeland Security Department, testified before the Senate Homeland Security Committee that this legislation would improve the DHS's ability to address the threats of cybersecurity. She said that the current threat outpaces the authority of the DHS.
Attacks last year on companies such as Citigroup Inc. and Lockheed Martin Corp. intensified the push for cybersecurity legislation.
The roundtable participants included: Tommy Ross of the U.S. Senate Office of Majority Leader, Jeffrey Ratner of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Nick Rossi of the U.S. Senate Minority Staff Director Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Tom Corcoran of the U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and Kevin Gronberg of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security.
Frank J. Cilluffo, Director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute, moderated.