Nation's Infrastructure Still Vulnerable to Cyber Attack


Role of the Federal Government

Infrastructure protection will fall under the jurisdiction of numerous government agencies. The GAO review has identified 18 different sectors to monitor and has suggested seven agencies to oversee responsibilities.

DHS will handle most of the domestic responsibility, but other agencies will help to oversee specific areas. For example, the Treasury Department will help protect the banking sector and the Department of Energy will help protect the electric grid and oil storage facilities.

With so many agencies in charge of infrastructure defense, some experts are worried that the departments will be confused on certain issues.

"No doubt the responsibilities are fragmented," said Bodenheimer.

Proposed legislative solutions could empower the president to take more direct control in a crisis. But some critics have already objected to further consolidation and view cyber security reform as a massive overreach by the federal government.

"If we frame this discussion as a war discussion, then what you do when there's a threat of war is you call in the military and you get military solutions," said Bruce Schneier, a cyber security author that argued that point in 2010 at the televised Intelligence Squared debate in Washington. "You get lockdown; you get an enemy that needs to be subdued. ... And so the threat of cyber war is being grossly exaggerated, and I think it's being done for a reason. This is a power grab by government."

The cyber security bill that was introduced in 2010 faced fierce criticism. Opponents slammed a provision that would give the president the ability to shut off the Internet. Opponents to the bill pointed to the Internet censorship in the middle as a reason for limiting executive power.

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