Bloomberg News

Data Breaches Show Need for Cybersecurity Bill, White House Says

November 02, 2011

Oct. 28 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. lawmakers should pass legislation to protect the nation’s power grids, financial networks and transportation systems from hacker attacks, Howard Schmidt, the White House cybersecurity coordinator, said.

Since the Obama administration delivered a cybersecurity proposal to Congress in May, “a number of new security breaches have been reported,” Schmidt wrote in a blog post on the White House website today.

“The time is ripe to make proposal into law, and give the government and private sector the extra tools needed to fight those who would harm us,” he said.

The Obama administration proposal would require companies to report data breaches based on a national standard, toughen penalties for computer crimes and direct the Homeland Security Department to work with banks, utilities and transportation operators to develop cybersecurity plans.

Schmidt is the second administration official to prod Congress on cybersecurity this week. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano yesterday touted the proposal at an event in Washington and said she was optimistic lawmakers would act this session.

Speaking at the same event, Representative William “Mac” Thornberry of Texas, who led a House Republican task force on cybersecurity, supported an “incremental” approach to legislation.

The House task force this month recommended infrastructure protections against hacker attacks through the use of voluntary industry standards, incentives and limited regulation.

Schmidt, in his blog post, said there is no federal requirement that companies alert the government to “serious intrusions.” When cybersecurity incidents put national and economic security at risk, “the Federal government must know what is happening so that it can take steps to bring adversaries to justice and help protect Americans,” he said.

--Editors: Michael Shepard, Steve Geimann

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Engleman in Washington at eengleman1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Shepard at mshepard7@bloomberg.net


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