Gov’t Eyes Need for Powers in Case of Cyber Attack

June 15, 2010 18:57

Why is it this administration always wants more power?


The government may have to take “extraordinary measures” in responding to a cyber attack that affects critical public or private computer networks, a senior Homeland Security official said.

National Cyber Security Center director Phil Reitinger said Congress should work with the administration to determine if new presidential powers are needed to govern how key industries such as power plants, the electrical grid and vital financial systems respond during a cyber crisis.

A key Senate committee is proposing that the president have more specific authority over how major industries react. Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said those powers could include the ability to require companies to install a computer patch or block particular Internet traffic.

U.S. officials are struggling to beef up the nation’s cyber security, as federal computer networks are being scanned and attacked millions of times a day by hackers, cyber terrorists and criminals seeking to steal sensitive data or disrupt and destroy vital operations.

While no one argues with the severity of the threat, lawmakers are divided over how big a role the government should play, and which federal agency should be in charge. In the middle are industry leaders who argue that private companies can often do a better job than the federal government in protecting their systems and ensuring their staffs are qualified.


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