Cybersecurity Executive Order May Be Coming Soon

Sue Marquette Poremba

President Obama has talked the talk about cybersecurity for some time now. Is he ready to walk the walk?

After Congress failed to pass cybersecurity legislation earlier this summer, there was a lot of chatter swirling that the president would simply issue an executive order and bypass the contentious legislative branch. But then the chatter died down as the presidential campaign started to hit full stride.

So I was a little surprised to see the conversation pop up again, in the midst of the latest turmoil in the Middle East. But then, as terrorism seems to be raising its ugly head again, this might be the best time to address the need for serious cybersecurity protection.

As I write this blog post, there hasn’t been a definitive announcement of an executive order. There have been talks of a leaked version of an executive order, however, and plenty of opposition op-eds and articles.

The only way the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 will be enacted in 2012 is if it does come via executive order. One of the bill’s chief supporters, Senator Joe Lieberman, has said that it doesn’t look like it will be brought up in the Senate before the November elections.

According to an article in Homeland Security Today:

The order reportedly gives the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) oversight of a new critical infrastructure cybersecurity council – a move that has been vehemently opposed by the private sector, particularly the US Chamber of Commerce, which has argued against both a centralized role for DHS and additions to the current regulatory regime.

At the same time I saw the news that an executive order may be coming soon, I saw articles about government-based cybersecurity efforts being pulled together in the European Union and Dubai. Cybersecurity isn’t an area where we should be falling behind.

Is an executive order that gives the federal government the authority to set up cybersecurity standards for the critical infrastructure the right thing to do? I’m with Lieberman and others who say they wish Congress would come up with some compromise in order to pass legislation that actually works, and not just window dressing to make it look like cybersecurity is being instituted. However, with the recent actions in Libya and just the general unrest in the U.S. and around the world, protecting the critical infrastructure from a cyber attack has to be a priority.



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