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12/13/2010
03:11 PM
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Senator Proposes Cybersecurity Standards

The Internet and Cybersecurity Safety Standards Act calls for minimum requirements to protect any device connecting to the Internet.

Inside DHS' Classified Cyber-Coordination Headquarters
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Inside DHS' Classified Cyber-Coordination Headquarters
A U.S. senator has introduced a bill that would require the government and the private sector to require minimum cybsersecurity standards for devices that connect to the Internet.

Introduced by Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., the Internet and Cybersecurity Safety Standards Act would require top government officials to determine the cost-effectiveness of requiring Internet service providers and others to develop and enforce cybersecurity safety standards, according to a press statement from Cardin's office. Cardin is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee.

The bill also requires officials -- including Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano, attorney general Eric Holder, and Commerce secretary Gary Locke -- to consider the effect the standards would have on homeland security, the global economy, innovation, individual liberty, and privacy.

If the legislation is passed, officials must collaborate with private-sector organizations, such as companies affected by the standards and various technology experts, before finalizing the standards.

Officials would then have one year from the bill's passage to report to Congress their recommendations for standards that will cover any device that can connect to the Internet, including computers and mobile phones.

Cardin unveiled the proposed legislation at the launch of the new Maryland Cybersecurity Center last week. The U.S. Cyber Command, established last June as the military command in charge of the U.S. effort against cyber warfare, is located in Maryland's Fort Meade. The state also is home to more than 50 of the federal government's security and intelligence facilities.

"We live in a digital world and we need to arm ourselves with the right tools to prevent a digital 9/11 before it occurs," Cardin said in comments to launch attendees. "Failure to take such steps to protect our nation's infrastructure and its key resources could wreak untold havoc for millions of Americans and businesses, as well as our national security."

Cybersecurity is a priority for the Obama administration, and government agencies are working on various initiatives to bolster the security of federal domains as well as U.S. critical infrastructure.

Lawmakers, however, have been dragging their feet on the issue. Though there are a host of cybersecurity bills before Congress in various stages of process, a comprehensive cybersecurity law has yet to be passed.

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