WASHINGTON, D.C.— The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) of 2015, which passed the Senate this afternoon with strong bipartisan support (74-21), included an important amendment authored by U.S. Senator Susan Collins.
“We are at September 10th levels in terms of cyber preparedness. In light of this continuing state of cyber insecurity, the passage of this bipartisan legislation is a good first step in our effort to bolster our nation’s cyber defenses,” said Senator Collins, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Senator Collins' amendment, which was adopted in the CISA Act, requires the DHS Secretary to conduct an assessment of the critical infrastructure entities that are at greatest risk of a cyber attack that could result in catastrophic national or regional harm. The amendment requires the Secretary to develop a strategy to mitigate the risk of a catastrophic attack to the greatest extent feasible.
A catastrophic attack refers to a single cyber attack that would likely result in 2,500 deaths, or $50 billion in economic damage, or a severe degradation of our national security. Our nation’s critical infrastructure includes the electricity that powers our communities, the national air transportation system that moves passengers and cargo safely from one location to another, and the elements of the financial sector that ensure the $14 trillion in payments made every day are securely routed through the banking system.
“I am pleased that the amendment I authored to guard the critical infrastructure our nation depends on every day was adopted with bipartisan support. The livelihood of almost every American depends upon our critical infrastructure, and the threats are not hypothetical – they are already occurring in increasing in frequency and severity. The bare minimum we must do is ask DHS and the appropriate federal agencies to describe what more could be done to prevent a catastrophic cyber attack on our critical infrastructure,” Senator Collins continued.
Senator Collins spoke from the Senate floor yesterday to urge her colleagues to support the bipartisan cybersecurity legislation.
In response to a question from Senator Collins at a recent open hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the Director of the National Security Agency, Admiral Rogers, said that on a scale of 1-10, the level of preparedness to protect our critical infrastructure from a cyber attack is at a “5 or 6”. He further testified that greater preparedness is clearly necessary to address this serious vulnerability.
In addition, the Director of National Intelligence, Jim Clapper, was asked at a recent Senate Armed Services Committee what the one cyber challenge that concerned him the most. He testified that it was a large-scale cyber attack against the United States’ infrastructure.