Aug 31, 2009 | 7
Could President Obama, in the event of a massive cyber attack against government computers, be given the power to bring Internet traffic to a stop?
That's the big question being asked in cyber security circles today. The answer is no, at least not based on the Cybersecurity Act of 2009 that Sen. Jay Rockefeller first (D–W.V.) proposed in April nor on an excerpt of the revised bill that's been floating around the Web since late last week.
The confusion arises from some of the language in the bill's original version, which proposes to give the president authority to declare a cyber security emergency and "order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic to and from any compromised Federal Government or United States critical infrastructure information system or network." By critical infrastructure, we're talking about the computers that run utilities, banks, hospitals and government agencies—the institutions that society relies on to function normally. The first draft of the bill also seeks to give the president the ability to "order the disconnection of any Federal Government or United States critical infrastructure information systems or networks in the interest of national security."
Aug 7, 2009 | 3
The same week that the Obama Administration lost its acting cyber security czar, cyber attacks torpedoed several of the Web's most popular social-networking sites, in particular Twitter and Facebook. Although the denial-of-service attacks (which overwhelm Web servers with phony requests) were the latest reminder of the difficulties of defending the Web against cyber threats, it appears that these crashed sites were collateral damage in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Georgia. Or were they?
Aug 4, 2009 | 3
White House acting cyber security czar Melissa Hathaway on Monday became the latest to walk away from a position that (ostensibly, at least) promises to play the primary role in protecting the nation's digital infrastructure. Hathaway told The Wall Street Journal she was leaving the White House after about six months there for "personal reasons," but the paper also made clear that Hathaway (like many of her federal-level cyber security predecessors) was embroiled in a power struggle that she was unlikely to win.
Hathaway, a holdover from the Bush administration, locked horns with President Obama's economic team, the Journal reports, after she said it should consider options for regulating some private-sector entities to ensure they secure their networks. Instead of "spinning her wheels" in the White House, as one Journal source put it, Hathaway decided to "pass the torch."
Feb 10, 2009
Pres. Obama yesterday ordered a 60-day review of federal government programs designed to protect online info, including tax records, social security numbers, passport info and classified documents.
The president appointed Melissa Hathaway (pdf), who was a senior advisor to the National Intelligence director during the Bush administration, to head the review. Hathaway is tasked with reviewing all existing government cyber security programs and recommending ways to improve them, according to The Washington Post.
Hathaway in October wrote an op-ed piece for McClatchy-Tribune News Service (pdf) in which she called for "stronger international alliances to share the responsibility for securing cyberspace."
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