Top U.S. officials are meeting with senators in a closed-door meeting Wednesday evening to push for tougher cyber-security measures to protect the nation’s water, electrical, and telecommunications grid.
Briefers will guide senators through a simulated cyber attack that damages New York City’s electrical grid during a heat wave. White House national security adviser John Brennan, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and the National Security Agency will be involved. The scenario is hoped to give senators a whole new appreciation for new legislative authorities that would help the U.S. government prevent and respond quickly to cyber attacks.
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The bill under consideration is aimed at identifying security shortfalls for critical infrastructure and is backed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and has some Republican support. The bill could require upgrades for critical infrastructure overseen by the Department of Homeland Security.
Another bill would require federal contractors to inform the government about cyber threats and make it easier for government regulators to communicate about threats, but would not affect critical infrastructure. The second bill is backed by Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) and supported largely by other Republicans.
Concerns over incursions into U.S. networks by hackers have been growing. Some high-profile hacking victims include Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Citigroup (NYSE:C), Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT), and Nasdaq OMX Group (NASDAQ:NDAQ). In 2008, hackers targeted President Barack Obama’s and Senator John McCain’s presidential campaigns looking to steal anything from secrets to credit card numbers.
In December, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence approved a bill to expand a Pentagon program for the sharing of classified threat information with defense contractors and their Internet service providers.
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