Rep. Mike Rogers, the head of the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, told a cyber-security conference hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last month that significant new cyber threats to U.S. financial networks appeared to be emerging from an “unusual” source. While Rep. Rogers didn’t specifically identify the purported new threat nor its origin, he referred several times to what he described as Iran’s growing cyber espionage capabilities. The Michigan Republican made it pretty clear that he considers Iran as a major suspect, and that the country could cause trouble within our financial services networks.
Classified briefings about the possible new keyboard-launched threats may have revived prospects for stalled measures aimed at boosting cyber-security in the “lame duck” Congressional session after the election on November 6th. Rep. Rogers said these secret briefings for lawmakers have highlighted a “threat that would target networks here from an unusual – careful here – source that has some very real consequences if we are not capable to deal with it.” His concern was with nation states that are gaining a cyber-warfare capability beyond those that “we often talk about.” An unclassified U.S. intelligence report last year said the governments of China and Russia were expected to remain “aggressive and capable” collectors of U.S. trade secrets, particularly in cyberspace.
Iran says it has been adding to its cyber abilities since its disputed nuclear program was damaged in 2010 by malicious computer code known as Stuxnet, reliably reported to have been developed by the United States. A U.S. financial services industry group has warned banks, brokerages and insurers to be on heightened alert for cyber attacks after the websites of Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase experienced service disruptions. Customers of Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co., U.S. Bancorp and PNC Financial Services have reported trouble accessing their websites, as unusually high traffic appeared to crash or slow down the systems in October.
Rep. Rogers reiterated his concerns about alleged Chinese cyber theft of U.S. trade secrets, describing Beijing as “ferocious about seeking information.” He also cited what he called media reports that China likely was behind a disruption of a White House computer system disclosed last month. Rep. Rogers observed:
What people don’t realize is that we are in war today in cyberspace. And this is the biggest national security threat I can think of that we are not prepared to handle in this country today.
Lots of folk don’t know that a Senate bill – backed by President Barack Obama – that would have allowed for greater information-sharing between intelligence agencies and private companies was opposed by a rather weird coalition. Both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which objected to additional regulation, and the American Civil Liberties Union, which is worried about privacy issues, opposed the bill. Rep. Rogers and Rep. C.A. Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the committee, have introduced separate bipartisan legislation that would clear the private sector to share information on cyber threats with the federal government and others on a voluntary basis. Hopefully, members of Congress, in a joint bi-partisan effort, will make this legislation a top priority after the election.
Source: Insurance Journal
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