12 Feb 2013

Department of Homeland Security to receive increased infrastructure security responsibility

President Obama could issue an executive order this week aimed at enhancing US ability to defend against electronic attacks, according to reports.

The order will give the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) responsibility for protecting critical US infrastructure and comes amid growing concerns over the nation’s vulnerability to cyber attacks.

One of the Obama administration’s major goals is to improve information-sharing about attacks among private companies and between companies and the government. Most US infrastructure is currently run by the private sector. Under the new order, DHS will be tasked with setting up a system for sharing cyber threats with private industry and will be responsible for protecting critical infrastructure.

FBI Executive Assistant Director Richard McFeely, head of the Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch said: “Our biggest issue right now is getting the private sector to a comfort level so they can report anomalies, malware, incidents within their network without undue fear of being ‘outed’ as victims.”

An organised approach to sharing cyber threat information gathered by the government is widely viewed as essential for any plan to protect US computer networks from foreign nations, terrorist groups and hackers.

However, the President’s draft order has come under criticism from Republicans who have accused it of bypassing Congress.

It has been estimated that 95 percent of private sector networks are vulnerable and most have already been affected by cyber attacks.

President Obama’s executive order is rumoured to be released tomorrow (13 February).