According to new intelligence reports, the US is the target of a cyber-espionage campaign aimed at the country’s economic competitiveness. The White House and Congress are said to be separately planning new legislation for counteracting cyber-attacks, which is rumored to be announced at some point this week.
The National Intelligence Estimate cites China as the main country responsible for hacking into secure computer systems of American businesses and institutions, looking for any data and information that can be used for financial gain -- The Washington Post calls the endeavor “massive and sustained.”
In addition to China, The National Intelligence Estimate named three other nations – Russia, France, and Israel - who have been hacking for economic intel, but, according to the classified report, the three countries' activities don’t compare to the severity of China’s efforts.
Numerous industries have been affected over the past five years, including energy, finance, information technology, aerospace and automotives, according to the Washington Post.
Recently, several major private news publications, including the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal, announced within days of each other that they had been infiltrated by Chinese hackers. However, many private companies remain reluctant to discuss cyber-espionage threats at all.
“It’s harder for companies to suggest that they haven’t been attacked," Michael Birmingham, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, told the Washington Post. "The question is, how do they respond when they are asked about it? Is it in their interest to work with other companies and with the government to alleviate some of the problem?”
Leaders in Washington have been preparing legislation to defend against cyber-security attacks. Last week, The Hill reported that the Cyber Intelligence Sharing Protection Act, or CISPA, would be coming back after it was killed in the Senate last year. The CISPA bill hopes to limit cyber-attacks by allowing private companies – like the ones that were hacked recently - to share information and data with the Department of Homeland Security.
While there were many problems with the original CISPA bill – including the concerns that it was too vague and had very little oversight – it seems a CISPA bill may help the US quell cyber-attacks from other countries, namely China.
It seems the White House and President Obama agree that a CISPA bill could be beneficial for the country in the long run. Reports indicate that Obama and the White House plan on supporting CISPA in 2013, as opposed to last year, when the administration threatened to veto CISPA if the bill reached Obama’s desk.
A White House-backed CISPA bill could pass, and in light of these growing cyber-security threats, CISPA (or a similar bill) may be necessary to protect the secure data and information of both the US and private US-based companies.
The White House seems to be very vigilant on cyber-security and has been preparing to discuss the issue in the coming days. The Washington Post said the White House would be releasing a trade-secrets report soon, which is said to hint at further cooperation between the private sector and the government.
Similarly, The Hill is reporting that President Obama and his administration are working an executive order to protect against cyber-attacks. The executive order – which doesn’t need to be passed by Congress – would create a voluntary program where companies who work in critical infrastructure would try and meet new cyber-security standards, written in part by the government.
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