CISPA Bill to be Revived

CISPA, short for the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act will likely be brought back for voting in Washington after recent reports of cyber espionage attempts against U.S. targets. Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, claims that “American businesses are under siege,” making the controversial bill a necessity. Today hackers are considered the new terrorists and the head of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, believes a “cyber 9-11” is probable if no cyber security legislation is enacted.

While we doubt that the threat of a nationwide crippling infrastructure cyber attack is near, businesses large and small should be taking the necessary precautions to prevent security breaches from hackers more interested in gaining valuable information. Recent targets have included several U.S. banks, the Federal Reserve’s website, the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and The Washington Post. Most of these attacks have been traced overseas to China.

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Image courtesy of PCWorld.com

If passed, CISPA would grant immunity from privacy laws to companies and federal parties which share customer information that relates to “cyber security”. The issue of course, is how easy it is for companies to cross the fine line between “sharing” this information for security purposes and misusing this immunity for spying. CISPA was passed by the House of Representatives last Spring, but never made it to the floor after a veto threat was issued by the White House. President Obama is reportedly preparing to issue an executive order on cyber security after the Union Address scheduled for February 12.

So how could this affect us? Overall, if the bill passes with restrictions on the use of “sharing” information and companies act within those boundaries, the bill would work for its intended purpose of preventing cyber attacks from overseas. This seems unlikely though, and it would also increase the government’s surveillance abilities, making most uncomfortable. However, it is unlikely that the bill will pass through the House it’s second time around without major changes, and we hope the President’s plans to address cyber security will create more options for better security without compromising privacy.