President Barack Obama announced plans last month to introduce legislation to strengthen cybersecurity laws. The move came on the heels of several massive data breaches such as Sony Pictures, Home Depot and Target. The President said the recent hacking attacks have emphasized the threat faced not only by financial systems, but also power grids and health care systems that run on networks connected to the Internet. According to the Neilson Report, credit and debit card fraud alone cost consumers more than $11.3 billion in losses in 2013.
Under the proposed legislation, companies will have 30 days to notify consumers if their personal information – such as Social Security number or address – has been exposed by hackers. The proposal also shields private sector companies from liability when they share information on cyber threats with government agencies like the FBI, NSA and Secret Service. Additionally, the White House said the plan “would allow for the prosecution of the sale of botnets, would criminalize the overseas sale of stolen U.S. financial information like credit card and bank account numbers, would expand federal law enforcement authority to deter the sale of spyware used to stalk or commit ID theft, and would give courts the authority to shut down botnets engaged in distributed denial of service attacks and other criminal activity.”
Another piece of the President’s proposed law, the Student Digital Privacy Act, aims to stop the sale of sensitive student data for non-education purposes. With students routinely using laptops, tablets and computer programs at school, lots of that data is being collected – and sometimes this information is sold to advertisers and financial companies. President Obama, after he had spoken to the Republican leaders of the House and Senate, observed:
I think we agreed that this is an area where we can work hard together, get some legislation done and make sure that we are much more effective in protecting the American people from these kinds of cyberattacks.
It’s critically important that Congress enact laws to strengthen our cybersecurity. We can’t sit back and let this area of concern continue to escalate. Steps must be taken to protect the American people and our businesses and institutions.
Source: White House Statements & Releases
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