Congress Offers Mixed Message on Cybersecurity Bill

Posted on Jul 10, 2015

There's no doubt cybersecurity is a hot topic in both the public and private sectors. Beyond its presence as a trending point of conversation, effective
cybersecurity measures are also critical to the successful continued operation of many businesses and government agencies and organizations. Despite this widely perceived need getting plenty of attention on Capitol Hill and in IT departments and boardrooms, there have been mixed messages about the stance of Congress as it relates to increasing protections. Despite plenty of high-profile incidents so far in 2015, Congress decided to delay a vote on an important cybersecurity bill in mid-July.

Conflicting statements
The data and network protection bill was highlighted as a priority by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in June, The New York Times reported. That bill, which had already gained approval from the House of Representatives, would encourage the opening of data and networks to federal investigators. Although not guaranteed by the bill, the implication is greater cooperation and more efficient, accurate communication would aid federal authorities in solving cybercrimes involving such breaches and ultimately increase security.

"The repeated failure to pass that defense measure means the cybersecurity bill is also in limbo."

The support previously seen in the House was bipartisan in nature, with legislators on both sides of the aisle speaking out in favor of increased protection for the data of and networks used by governmental and private sector organizations. However, a move intended by McConnell to push the bill through more quickly resulted in a political deadlock that has caused serious concern about its short-term future. McConnell attached the bill to a defense spending proposal that has served as a point of contention between Republicans and Democrats, according to the Times. The repeated failure to pass that defense measure means the cybersecurity bill is also sitting in limbo.

The Times spoke with Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Senate Intelligence Committee member, about the issue. She expressed both frustration and hope for the future of the bill.

"I'm hopeful that we're going to get [the cybersecurity bill] up soon," Feinstein told the Times. "That's really up to Senator McConnell. As he would say, we don't run things around here."


Department of Homeland Security expresses concern
Political news site Nextgov highlighted another aspect of deficient cybersecurity in the U.S.: the lack of a standardized security platform for federal agencies beyond those with military, intelligence and peacekeeping functions. While there is a platform in the works for the many agencies, it isn't yet ready for installation nor are some of the agencies ready to use it. While this specific campaign is only directly applicable to government agencies, it helps paint a fuller picture of the issues faced by the country as a whole. Without a consistent level of security and method for operations, federal investigators will have a harder time resolving issues with cybersecurity and tracing breaches.

What can businesses do right now?
While the federal cybersecurity bill isn't intended to provide blanket protection for businesses in the private sector, its passing would create significant advantages in both the short and long terms. No matter the bill's ultimate fate, organizations have to take a proactive stance and seek out effective measures for defending against cyberthreats. Solutions such as NC4 Mission Center offer a highly secure, Web-based platform for collaboration and the exchange of sensitive and valuable information.

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