The House Science, Space and Technology Committee unanimously approved the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2013 (H.R. 756), a bipartisan bill introduced by Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) that serves as an important first step in helping protect American military and economic interests from cyber threats. Approval of the bill comes just days after Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, told Congress that the danger of cyber attacks and cyber espionage on crucial infrastructure tops the list of global threats. The bill, the first cyber legislation to pass through any committee this Congress, is now cleared for consideration on the House floor.
"Threats to the homeland are evolving and so too must our defenses," said Rep. McCaul, Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. "I believe this is the Congress when we will finally address in a meaningful way the serious cybersecurity challenges our nation faces, including research and development, which is the focus of this important legislation. The stakes are too high for us not to act."
"When I first began working on this bill, I had no doubt that our use of the Internet andother communication networks would continue to grow and evolve, and that threats from hackers, criminals and even other governments would grow and evolve with it. I probably underestimated the threat," Rep. Lipinski said. "I believe that we face the possibility of a cyber "Pearl Harbor' that could destroy America's military and economic security. We have already seen the loss of countless jobs through cyber espionage and we face -- and thankfully, so far, have repelled -- much worse attacks every day. It is now more important than ever that we get this legislation across the finish line and onto the President's desk."
The legislation passed the House in 2012 and 2010 with overwhelming bipartisan support. The bill:
Improves coordination in government, providing for a strategic plan to assess the cybersecurity risk and guide the overall direction of federal cyber research and development.
Updates the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) responsibilities to develop security standards to harden our federal networks and processes for agencies to follow.
Establishes a federal-university-private-sector task force to coordinate research and development, improve training of cyber professionals.
Continues much-needed cybersecurity research and development programs at the National Science Foundation and NIST.