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Cyber Security: Senate Takes on Legislation, Doesn’t Pass Bill


Cyber Security: Senate Takes on Legislation, Doesn’t Pass Bill

The Senate once again took on the issue of cyber security legislation, stressing that is not a matter of whether a catastrophic cyber attack will occur, but when. “We’re not offering this proposal in a vacuum,” Senate Homeland Security Chairman Joe Lieberman, (Independent, CT), told reporters on Tuesday, July 24th. “We are responding to a very serious situation. The danger to the United States is clear, present, and growing.”

Cyber Security: Senate Takes on Legislation, Doesn’t Pass BillHowever, on Thursday, August 2, 2012, the Senate failed to pass what was considered a “compromised” bill that would have set voluntary standards to harden the network defenses of electric utilities, chemical plants and other privately owned facilities.

Debate over regulation as changes proposed

Senator Lieberman was one of the sponsors of the Cyber security Act of 2012, and tried to shore up enough votes for the bill to pass in the House. Yet, before that can even happen, the bill had to overcome opposition from some Republicans who say the bill isn’t ready for prime time.

Senate Armed Services ranking member John McCain (Republican, AZ), is one of the long-time critics of the Cyber Security Act, saying the Senate is rushing to debate a bill that still contains too many government regulations.

During the week of July 16th, Lieberman and other sponsors had introduced compromised language designed to win support from businesses and Republicans. Basically, in lieu of allowing Homeland Security Department to develop and enforce mandatory cyber-security standards for certain critical networks, as proposed by the White House and included in the original bill, the revised proposal relies on incentives such as liability protection and prioritized technical assistance to help encourage businesses into adopting voluntary standards.

These changes, however, have not done much to sway Senator McCain and others, who still feel the bill is not ready. Most Republicans and a few Democrats voted to block the measure. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups also continued to oppose it, and in a mostly party-line vote, the legislation failed to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to end debate. This defeat makes it less likely that Congress will pass a cyber-security bill this year.

“Rarely have I been so disappointed in the Senate’s failure to come to grips with a threat to our country,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the ranking member on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and one of the bill’s chief sponsors.

Cyber liability insurance a key risk management tool

Although legislation has not passed, one thing is clear: Businesses need to protect themselves against the risk of data breaches and privacy issues. Cyber Liability insurance, or Privacy/Network Security coverage, is designed to protect individuals against the unauthorized use or misuse of confidential information. There are several levels of coverages, of which we can go through with you as a business owner. At Axis Insurance Services, LLC, our cyber security insurance specialists can work with you to reduce your upfront exposure, develop effective new processes and procedures to minimize your risks, and help protect you against financial loss.

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Blogged on: August 7, 2012 by Mike Smith
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