Hugh Pickens writes "Senators Jay Rockefeller and Olympia J. Snowe are pushing to dramatically escalate US defenses against cyberattacks, crafting proposals in Senate legislation that could be introduced as early as today, that would empower the government to set and enforce security standards for private industry for the first time. The legislation would broaden the focus of the government's cybersecurity efforts to include not only military networks but also private systems that control essentials such as electricity and water distribution. 'People say this is a military or intelligence concern, but it's a lot more than that,' says Rockefeller, a former intelligence committee chairman. 'It suddenly gets into the realm of traffic lights and rail networks and water and electricity.' The bill, containing many of the recommendations of the landmark study 'Securing Cyberspace for the 44th Presidency' (PDF) by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, would create the Office of the National Cybersecurity Adviser, whose leader would report directly to the president and would coordinate defense efforts across government agencies. The legislation calls for the appointment of a White House cybersecurity 'czar' with unprecedented authority to shut down computer networks, including private ones, if a cyberattack is underway. It would require the National Institute of Standards and Technology to establish 'measurable and auditable cybersecurity standards' that would apply to private companies as well as the government. The legislation also would require licensing and certification of cybersecurity professionals."
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