Cyber Regulation and the Role of the Feds

Much has been made of cyber security experts trying to lobby for new legislation that will force certain companies to enforce greater security measures within their respective IP networks.

An article by the Associated Press reports that legislation currently mandates certain security measures be taken within critical industries, but the story further reports that loopholes exist within those measures.

Those loopholes allow companies to sidestep regulations if a limited number of fatalities would occur in the event that their respective networks are compromised. These loopholes are the cause for much of the advocacy within the cyber-security industry.

Taking a contrary position, the Houston Chronicle reports that many within the Republican Party are concerned with the "big brother" aspect of the legisltation, in particular the part that gives the Department of Homeland Security the power to decide who must abide by the proposed legislation.

Furthermore, those same people are concerned with the potential rise in operational costs that would occur should the new legislative proposal become law.

There are valid concerns put forth by each group. On the one hand, there have been documented cases of network intrusions into organizations that are responsible for maintaining some of the nation's most important infrastructure (i.e., utility companies, telecommunciations companies, etc).

Successful penetration of entities within these industries should be quite unsettling to Americans, regardless of political affiliation.

However, operational costs would probably rise in the event that these perceived loopholes were closed.

What many on the pro-security side of this argument fail to accept is that more regulation tends to favor the behemoths within corporate America while simulatenously morphing into a cross to bear for many small businesses. Put simply, AT&T can much more effectively absorb the regulation imposed by Uncle Sam than a start-up ISP could ever hope to.

In short, securing the network infrastructure of the United States involves much more than simply passing or fighting legislation. Cooperation with the federal government is important, but cooperation among the various entities within the private sector is equally important, if not more so.


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