April 24, 2018

Feinstein Introduces Bill to Bolster Protection of Federal Computer Networks

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today introduced the Federal Network Protection Act, a bill to improve the Department of Homeland Security’s ability to protect federal computer systems from foreign attacks.

            “We’re seeing more and more attacks on federal computer systems by foreign agents, and we need to make sure we have all the tools and authorities necessary to block those attacks,” Feinstein said. “By clarifying what actions the Secretary of Homeland Security can take, we allow the department to act quickly in response to cyber threats.”

Background

             According to the Government Accountability Office, cyber attacks on federal computer systems increased from 5,500 in 2006 to more than 77,000 in 2015. The speed and complexity of the threats are also evolving, requiring robust defensive measures.

             Two previous versions of the Federal Information Security Modernization Act (passed in 2002 and 2014) laid the framework for modernizing federal systems, providing the Secretary of Homeland Security with the authority to quickly remove compromised software programs from computer systems.

            Feinstein’s legislation builds on those efforts by clarifying that the Secretary of Homeland Security can issue Binding Operational Directives to remove compromised software from federal networks prior to providing notice to an affected software company. This change will ensure defensive actions aren’t unnecessarily delayed.

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