Senators Introduce Legislation to Promote Public Awareness of Cyber Security

Press Release

By:  Richard Blumenthal Lindsey Graham Roy Blunt Sheldon Whitehouse
Date: Nov. 1, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Lindsey Graham (D-SC), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today introduced the Cyber Security Public Awareness Act of 2013. The bill would improve public awareness of cyber security threats by instituting new reporting requirements for federal agencies charged with monitoring and responding to cyber threats.

In recent years, cyber attacks by criminals, foreign intelligence and military services, and terrorists have increased in frequency and efficacy. These incursions have resulted in billions of dollars of intellectual property lost, millions of Americans' identities stolen, increased vulnerability of critical infrastructure to sabotage, and intrusions into sensitive government networks. However, reliable information about cyber attacks and cyber risks remains largely unavailable to consumers, businesses, and policy makers.

"The cyber threat posed to American corporate and government networks and to individual users of the internet is enormous and unrelenting," said Whitehouse, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism. "Yet too many Americans remain in the dark about the severity and nature of this threat. This legislation will allow us to better arm ourselves with the basic knowledge needed to protect our nation's vital assets and our privacy. I particularly thank my lead cosponsor Senator Blunt for his assistance."

"Cyber breaches are a serious and growing threat to our country's security, and this bill will give us a greater understanding of the number of threats and the tools available to repel them," Blunt said. "I'm pleased to partner with Senator Whitehouse as we work to improve awareness of the danger of cyber attacks on our nation's government and private sector networks."

"So far Congress has failed to forge a workable cyber security framework to protect the United States against a fast-growing national security and economic threat," said Graham. "Our cyber-networks remain dangerously vulnerable to outside attack and are the repeated targets of foreign governments' efforts to steal the fruits of our intellectual and business efforts. This bill is a great step towards understanding this problem so that Congress can adequately and appropriately address it."

Blumenthal said, "Every day the United States is under attack by individuals wishing to steal sensitive information from the American government and corporate information systems, as well as the home networks of individual internet users. As a result of these cyber attacks, intellectual property is lost, identities are stolen, and America is less safe. By instituting new reporting requirements for federal agencies charged with reviewing and responding to cyber attacks, this legislation will help us better protect our country and constituents from hackers wishing to do harm. Cyber security is national security, and Americans should be in the know about the real threats we face."

The Cyber Security Public Awareness Act would require national security and law enforcement agencies, including the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, and Justice, to submit reports to Congress on attacks on federal networks, investigations of cyber crime, and other impediments to appropriate public awareness of common cyber security threats. The bill also includes provisions to enhance awareness of threats against our nation's critical infrastructure, publicly traded businesses, and individual internet users.