House subcommittee elevates cybersecurity position

    Date06 May 2005
    Posted ByBrittany Day
    A bill that would create a high-level cybersecurity official in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was approved Wednesday by a House of Representatives subcommittee.

    The Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity Enhancement Act, approved by the House Subcommittee on Economic Security, Infrastructure Protection and Cybersecurity, would create the position of assistant secretary for cybersecurity at DHS. The bill, sponsored by Representatives Mac Thornberry, a Texas Republican, and Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat, would also make the assistant secretary responsible for establishing a national cybersecurity threat reduction program and a national cybersecurity training program.

    Thornberry and Lofgren, both members of the House Committee on Homeland Security, praised the subcommittee's action. "All of us in our daily lives depend on the reliability of hundreds of computer networks, and we must protect those networks from attacks by criminals or terrorists," Thornberry said in a statement. "This bill will help make sure our government is devoting the proper amount of attention to cybersecurity."

    The top cybersecurity official at DHS has been the director of the agency's National Cyber Security Division, a lower-level position, and technology trade groups for several months have been calling for a higher-level position that could make cybersecurity a higher priority at DHS.

    This month, the Cyber Security Industry Alliance (CSIA), a vendor trade group, repeated its calls for an assistant secretary for cybersecurity, and Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) President Harris Miller testified at Wednesday's hearing in support of the bill.

    "It is clear that all of the nation's critical infrastructures rely significantly on computer networks to deliver the services that maintain our safety and national economy," Harris said in a statement. "The owners and operators of those infrastructures must be able to look to a single senior individual within the government, with effective influence and budget authority, to coordinate collaborative efforts across sectors and with state and local governments."

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