The Complex

House lawmakers: NYT hacking highlights need for cyber legislation

Chinese hackers' espionage efforts against the networks of U.S. news organizations including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal prompted several House lawmakers to call for a renewed effort to pass cyber security legislation.

"Attacks like this and the recent cyber attacks on U.S. banks, are further evidence that we must harden our networks against espionage by enacting comprehensive cybersecurity legislation to bolster our defenses against enemies who seek to steal our intelligence, intellectual property and dismantle our critical infrastructure," said Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas), chair of the House Homeland Security Committee in an email statement to Killer Apps.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence made a similar call for Congress to move ahead with cyber security legislation in the face of a "relentless and sweeping" cyber espionage effort by China.

"The attacks on the U.S. banking industry and now major media outlets who dared publish stories critical of the Chinese government prove this is not a theoretical threat," said Rogers in a statement to Killer Apps. "Foreign cyber attackers are targeting every aspect of the American economy every day and Congress needs to act with urgency to protect our national security and our economy."

Rogers tried late last year to reintroduce the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA that he sponsored in early 2012.

CISPA would have allowed the government to share intelligence about online threat signatures with companies.  It would have also allowed companies to quickly notify the government if they believed they were under cyber attack, without being legally liable for improperly sharing customers' private information.

That bill passed in the House last April. However, it failed in the Senate after criticism by civil liberties advocates such as the ACLU, and Internet activist groups such the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Mozilla Foundation (the creators of Firefox).

Rogers' committee last year warned American businesses against doing business with Chinese telecomminucations giants Huawei and ZTE, claiming the two firms were spying on U.S. businesses on behalf of the Chinese government.

Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI.), co-chair of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus called for the establishment of international norms of behavior for dealing with cases of cyber aggression in addition to cyber security legislation in the United States.

"I have long pushed for international cooperation on cyber that includes establishing practices for responding when a country either condones or actively participates in significant cyber crime, espionage or attacks," said Langevin in a statement to Killer Apps. "However, we must remember that one of the greatest challenges in cybersecurity is the difficulty of attribution, so it is critical for the government and for private companies to take responsibility for protecting themselves. Most importantly, I continue to implore my colleagues to recognize the urgency with which we must act on cybersecurity by passing legislation that will make information sharing easier and address the vulnerability of our critical infrastructure."

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