Infrastructure companies vulnerable

Oct. 6, 2010 at 8:35 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate is considering legislation to address the possibility, raised by an Internet security firm, of cyberattacks on firms providing infrastructure.

The report, issued by Symantec, found 53 percent of critical infrastructure providers say they've experienced a politically motivated cyberattack -- with half expecting another attack in the next year, and 80 percent saying the attacks are becoming more frequent -- The Hill reported Wednesday.

"Critical infrastructure protection is not just a government issue. In countries where the majority of a nation's critical infrastructure is owned by private corporations, in addition to large enterprises, there is also the presence of small and medium-sized businesses," Justin Somaini, Symantec's chief information security officer, said.

Cybersecurity is a high priority for the Obama administration which asserts its right to act -- under a clause in the Communications Act passed just after the assault on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 -- to protect private-sector networks should a catastrophic cyberattack occur costing significant loss of life or financial damage, The Hill says.

The Senate is considering legislation intended to determine which agency has such power and how it should be exercised.

The Senate Homeland Security Committee has approved a bill limiting the White House's role and placing most operational authority with the Department of Homeland Security. Members of the Senate Commerce Committee would rather see the Commerce Department's National Institute for Standards and Technology take the lead role in regulating cybersecurity requirements, with a more hands-off approach from the federal government, The Hill said.

The Senate is not expected to resolve the issue this year.

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