Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Senate Intelligence Committee Announces Cybersecurity Task Force

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence announced Tuesday the formation of a cybersecurity task force to evaluate cyber threats against the U.S. Senators Mikulski (D-MD) and Snowe (R-ME) will serve as task force members. Senator Whitehouse (D-RI) will serve as task force chair. Among other things, the task force will issue recommendations relating to cyber threats and cyber security to the U.S. intelligence community. The task force will serve until June 2010.

Cybersecurity has become a key issue of concern in recent months for members of Congress as well as the intelligence community. Last month, the House Committee on Science and Technology passed H.R. 4061, the Cyersecurity Enhancement Act of 2009, which would streamline federal investments in cybersecurity research and development as well as improve cybersecurity and technical standards in the workforce and encourage cybersecurity partnerships between the public and private sectors. Also in November, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary's Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security held a two-panel hearing called “Cybersecurity: Preventing Terrorist Attacks and Protecting Privacy in Cyberspace” to discuss the growing risk of cyber attacks. The first panel included representatives from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Department of Defense (DOD). The second panel included Senior Counsel of the Center for Democracy and Technology and the President of the Internet Security Alliance. Testimony was heard regarding al-Qaeda's growing awareness of U.S. cyber vulnerabilities, and their increased interest in learning computer hacking skills. Some members of the panels added that gaps exist in current cybersecurity laws such that new and growing threats are not being addressed.

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