9/11 Haunts Debate Over Cybersecurity

September 11, 2012

Josh Smith

More than a decade after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the tragedy haunts Washington policymakers who are deadlocked over how to protect the country against cyberattacks.

Current and former government officials have spent months pointing to 9/11 as a harbinger of what could occur if Congress, federal agencies, and businesses don’t act to update policies that govern how cyberthreat information is shared; how threats are monitored; and what standards should guide national cybersecurity.

“We’ve got an opportunity to do what we didn’t do before 9/11. We’ve got an opportunity to fix this problem before we’re attacked,” Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., told National Journal in an interview earlier this year. “I hope and pray that we deal with it, and we don’t run around frantically after an attack to close loopholes we can close now.”

Lieberman was the lead sponsor of the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, which failed to advance before Congress recessed in August. Republicans, backed by business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, say the bill could lead to burdensome government regulations that could never keep up with ever-changing cyberthreats.

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