Senator John McCain last week dissed the Department of Homeland Security, stating that the NSA is better suited to preventing cyberattacks. Wait, what? The NSA has tremendous cyber capabilities, don’t get me wrong. But wasn’t DHS formed to prevent the kinds of bureaucratic nightmares of sharing information between agencies. The DHS has a National Cybersecurity Center charged with protecting US Government communications networks.
This comes after a bipartisan committee of Senators including Joe Lieberman, Jay Rockafeller, and Susanne Collins brought a new bill last week that, at least on paper, had a good chance of passing this year. McCain and 8 other Senators rushed to criticize the bill, potentially dashing any hopes of passing a Cybersecurity bill this year. This bill is purported to have incorporated many of the proposals on Cybersecurity over the past several years, so potentially it was on the fast track to passage…and maybe it still does.
The Senator could have just as easily said that the FBI should be in charge of preventing cyberattacks. The issue of CyberSecurity is like a hot potato. Should the Department of Defense and the NSA have the ball? Or DHS and the NCS? Or the Department of Justice and the FBI? How do you determine whether an attack is coming from a government or an individual? A crime syndicate or a hacktivist group? Ultimately prevention and education, like this bill supports, are the best ways of keeping us all out of trouble…aside from unplugging our computers. Hopefully that doesn’t get lost.