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White House takes a look at cybersecurity

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Tuesday, September 25, 2012

After Congress failed to pass new cybersecurity legislation last month, President Barack Obama is now weighing in on the issue with an Executive Order that would help the country's network of critical infrastructure remain safe from external threats, Fierce Smartgrid reports.

According to the news source, Senators Susan Collins and Joe Lieberman co-sponsored the bill, and although it did not pass, are still pressing the importance of cybersecurity on the country. There is a huge need, the senators say, for a bill that can establish voluntary cybersecurity guidelines for critical infrastructure like the nation's power grid.

However, many were unsure if such a bill would be effective, or merely create burdens for businesses when it came to integrating new smart grid systems.

In listening to these senators discuss the state of America's critical infrastructure, the White House was moved to prepare to make an Executive Order regarding cyber security, meaning the new policies could become law without the approval of Congress.

The order will allow the federal government to develop guidelines for companies to follow that would ensure they are using security best practices, and also establish new agencies to determine the threat level of potential cyber security attacks.

John Brennan, assistant to the President for homeland security and counter terrorism, recently confirmed the Obama's plans to deliver the Executive Order.

"Following congressional inaction, the President is determined to use existing executive branch authorities to protect our nation against cyber threats," Brennan wrote in a letter released on Friday, September 21.

Senator Collins stated that even with the Executive Order, legislation should still be written, as an order "could send the unintended signal that congressional action is not urgently needed," she said.

High stakes

The need for some form of government action is growing as cyber security threats become more of a reality. As the smart grid expands, it will incorporate more wireless communications, resulting in several access points and vulnerabilities. According to the latest growth forecast from GlobalData, the smart grid security market will grow to be worth more than $79 billion by 2020.

However, some regulations are already in place. The bulk power supply is currently subject to NERC CIP regulations, which if violated, can result in fines of up to $1 million per day until the issue is resolved. SUBNET's products help utilities comply with these stringent standards, all while ensuring efficient data collection, analysis and management.

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