Is DHS Ready to Oversee Private Cybersecurity?

April 5, 2012

Lawmakers are debating whether to empower the Department of Homeland Security to regulate the security of some privately owned information networks. But even if Congress passes such a bill, many experts question whether the department has the resources and expertise to handle the job.

Under a bill sponsored by Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., certain companies operating the nation's electric grid, water supply and other critical systems would have to meet cybersecurity standards approved and enforced by DHS and share with the government all instances when they come under cyber attack.

If Congress approves handing DHS a stronger regulatory role, the department likely would take some cues from other agencies serving in similar roles, such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), said a DHS official, who asked not to be named because the legislation is pending. DHS worked closely with Lieberman's staff as it drafted the bill. 

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