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Government officials respond to attack on electrical grid infrastructure

After a report earlier in the month indicated foreign hackers successfully infiltrated the U.S. power grid infrastructure, government officials immediately started working on legislation aimed at reducing the possibility of a similar incident in the future.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn) and Rep Bennie Thompson (D-Miss) officially introduced the Critical Electric Infrastructure Protection Act, which has been written to help create guidelines to bolster the government's readiness for possible cyberattacks.  Lieberman currently heads the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, while Thompson is the chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security.

"Any failure of our electric grid, whether intentional or unintentional, would have a significant and potentially devastating impact on our nation," Thompson said in a statement.  "We must ensure that the proper protections, resources and regulatory authorities are in place to address any threat aimed at our power system."

If a cyberthreat against the infrastructure is perceived to be legitimate, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will have the ability to hand out orders and modify rules, the bill said.  FERC could force critical facilities to change passwords, lock down systems, or do anything else it perceives as a necessary step.

"This legislation addresses these critical issues by providing a common sense approach to ensure continued security of the nation's electric infrastructure."

As the threat of cyber attacks continues to grow at an alarming rate, the report linked to earlier indicates cyber attackers from Russia and China targeted the U.S. electrical grid -- malware tools were installed in case they wanted to shut the network down later.  Even more troubling, according to security experts, was the ease in which hackers were able to gain entry into the network.

The U.S. grid control systems are electronically probed for weaknesses a large number of times by foreign hackers, though there weren't any previous confirmed accounts of actual infiltration, according to the Defense Science Board.

The overall possibility of a crippling cyber attack has led to computer security companies working with government agencies on protecting vital assets. 

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RE: government's answer....
By foolsgambit11 on 4/30/2009 11:57:06 AM , Rating: 2
And your post comes across as reaching to defend him at all costs because you agree with him.

From what I gathered, this article shouldn't raise a debate over big versus small government at all. The government isn't expanding its sphere. This isn't a case of "more laws", this is a law change which actually should reduce the amount of regulation involved in operating the grid by giving senior security managers greater discretion to tailor the response to the threat.

Grid security is a necessary role of government - hopefully we all agree that the government should protect vital infrastructure from attack. Given that, you can administer that role either by legislating procedures for every contingency, or by giving discretion to a bureaucrat (who hopefully will make his decisions based on expert advice), or a combination of both tactics. I personally think the combination method has the most benefits. Over-legislation risks the security apparatus not being able to respond dynamically enough. Relying on a bureaucrat's discretion risks an incompetent person failing to respond adequately to a threat. Balancing both tactics (done right) minimizes the downsides of each strategy (and done wrong it minimizes the strengths of each strategy).

This bill seems to be trying to balance regulation and initiative, although how well it does it I can't say. But it is not making government or bureaucracy larger (unless national security demands it) - it's just trying to make them better.

RE: government's answer....
By ebakke on 4/30/2009 1:52:17 PM , Rating: 2
And your post comes across as reaching to defend him at all costs because you agree with him.
I'm defending no one. FIT may be a douche who's spewing hate for no reason. He may be an outstanding citizen with a reason to gripe. Most likely, he's somewhere in the middle. I'm simply saying it's not fair to jump to a conclusion with partial information, and then chastise someone based on that conclusion.

On the actual topic of the article - couldn't agree with you more.

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith
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