Governance & Risk Management

Bill Mulled to Create White House Cybersecurity Office

Senators Envision Post Reporting Directly to President.
Bill Mulled to Create White House Cybersecurity Office
A Senate bill to establish an office of cybersecurity in the White House is in the works.

The legislation, sponsored by Sens. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Olympia Snowe of Maine, would establish a permanent cybersecurity official who would report directly to the President.

According to Sen. Bill Nelson, the Florida Democrat who says he's working on the bill with Democrat Rockefeller and Republican Snowe, the legislation also would, among other things:

Require vulnerability assessments by intelligence and Homeland Security officials, reviewing the threat to not only government computers but critical private networks, as well;

Create a public-private clearinghouse for cyber threat and vulnerability information-sharing. The clearinghouse would be responsible for the management and sharing of data between the federal government and private sector critical infrastructure operators; and

Provide funding for scholarships to get more people into the field of cyber security.

All three senators serve on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which along with other Senate panels is staking a claim over cybersecurity legislation and oversight. It's common for more than one congressional panel to tackle the same topics.

Rockefeller, who chairs the Commerce committee, suggested his committee has a role to play in developing cybersecurity policy because of a disruption to government and private computer networks could prove devastating to the economy. "Let me be very clear: I will not wait for a crisis to take action now," Rockefeller said last week at a hearing he chaired on cybersecurity. "Today's economic climate simply does not allow room for error.

"Cyber criminals are actively targeting banking and economic institutions every hour, even as we speak. Cyber attacks have the potential to impact everything every part of our security and our adversaries know it, from the international power supply networks to Wall Street trading to a small online business."

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Retired Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Chabrow, who retired at the end of 2017, hosted and produced the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversaw ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.

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