Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

6/25/2010
02:47 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
Commentary
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

There's No (New) Internet Kill Switch

The Lieberman-Collins cybersecurity bill passed out of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday to await consideration by the full Senate. But not everyone is satisfied with what it says.

The Lieberman-Collins cybersecurity bill passed out of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday to await consideration by the full Senate. But not everyone is satisfied with what it says.The bill has drawn criticism in some quarters because it supposedly includes provisions for an Internet kill switch -- when the going gets rough, the President supposedly could power down the Net.

Well, it seems there is no Internet kill switch in the bill. Apparently, we have one already.

In an e-mail directed to his media contacts on Friday, Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute, wrote:

There is no kill switch in the Lieberman-Collins Bill (formally known as Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, S. 3480). But there is one already on the books in the Communications Act of 1934.

The Lieberman-Collins bill just authorizes standard filtering like that done by ISPs every day, but in a nationally-coordinated fashion. The only kill switch appears to be in Sec. 706(c) of the Communications Act of 1934, that already gives the President the power in a time of national security emergency to shut down or disrupt internet traffic. The Lieberman Collins Bill is much more measured and effective.

The relevant sections of both bills are provided below. Read them yourself. The press has been totally fooled by IT and telephone company lobbyists, and by an incorrect article from a CNET reporter (I wonder who gave him the incorrect data). That false press report got repeated over and over.

If you are a journalist, next time you hear one of the lobbyists talk about "unintended consequences" and "kill switches" remember how the car companies tried to block mandatory seat belts by saying "your wives and children will die in car fires because the seat belts will keep them from getting out of their cars in time." And you might consider recalling the immortal words of Garrison Keillor, "Liar, liar, pants on fire."

That's not to say there's no reason to be concerned about the bill. In a letter backed by some 23 other civil liberties groups, the Center for Democracy & Technology on Wednesday, laid out a list of concerns about the specifics of the proposed law.

Among other things, the letter says, "the bill should also be amended to require an independent assessment of the effect on free speech, privacy and other civil liberties of the measures undertaken to respond to each emergency the President declares. It is imperative that cybersecurity legislation not erode our rights."

Frankly, it's hard to know how to talk about possible emergencies and what might be appropriate. Sure, it's nice to think that Twitter will be available in a crisis. But what kind of crisis are we talking about? If it's like The Road, where the main concern is not being eaten by soul-dead cannibals, who'd notice an Internet shutdown?

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Zero-Factor Authentication: Owning Our Data
Nick Selby, Chief Security Officer at Paxos Trust Company,  2/19/2020
44% of Security Threats Start in the Cloud
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  2/19/2020
Ransomware Damage Hit $11.5B in 2019
Dark Reading Staff 2/20/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
6 Emerging Cyber Threats That Enterprises Face in 2020
This Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at six emerging cyber threats that enterprises could face in 2020. Download your copy today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
The concept of application security is well known, but application security testing and remediation processes remain unbalanced. Most organizations are confident in their approach to AppSec, although others seem to have no approach at all. Read this report to find out more.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-5524
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-21
Aterm series (Aterm WF1200C firmware Ver1.2.1 and earlier, Aterm WG1200CR firmware Ver1.2.1 and earlier, Aterm WG2600HS firmware Ver1.3.2 and earlier) allows an attacker on the same network segment to execute arbitrary OS commands with root privileges via UPnP function.
CVE-2020-5525
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-21
Aterm series (Aterm WF1200C firmware Ver1.2.1 and earlier, Aterm WG1200CR firmware Ver1.2.1 and earlier, Aterm WG2600HS firmware Ver1.3.2 and earlier) allows an authenticated attacker on the same network segment to execute arbitrary OS commands with root privileges via management screen.
CVE-2020-5533
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-21
Cross-site scripting vulnerability in Aterm WG2600HS firmware Ver1.3.2 and earlier allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via unspecified vectors.
CVE-2020-5534
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-21
Aterm WG2600HS firmware Ver1.3.2 and earlier allows an authenticated attacker on the same network segment to execute arbitrary OS commands with root privileges via unspecified vectors.
CVE-2014-7914
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-21
btif/src/btif_dm.c in Android before 5.1 does not properly enforce the temporary nature of a Bluetooth pairing, which allows user-assisted remote attackers to bypass intended access restrictions via crafted Bluetooth packets after the tapping of a crafted NFC tag.