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The Atlantic on Langevin and Cyber Security

Shane Harris over at the Atlantic suggests that last night's 60 Minutes piece on cyber security will raise the profile of the issue. The story, he suggests, also annoints US Representative James Langevin the chief spokesman on the issue:

On the legislative side, electrical plant owners and operators of other critical infrastructures should take note: Rep. James Langevin (D-RI) is coming for you. Langevin has been one of the most outspoken cyber security advocates on the Hill, but he was portrayed last night as the leading voice. (His press office sent out a preview of his remarks in a press release Saturday, and indication that they planned to take full advantage of Langevin's prominence in the story.) He told 60 Minutes that the electrical utilities had "lied to Congress" about steps they were taking to close holes in their networks, the kind that hackers could exploit to cause a blackout in the United States. He ended up by saying that Congress needs to "change [the utilities'] motivation so that when we see a vulnerability like this we can require them to fix it." If Congress requires the electrical companies to fix their weaknesses, or to disclose them to the government, it will be a watershed moment in regulation. And it could set off a chain reaction whereby Congress requires other industries to disclose their network vulnerabilities to the government. This would be a game changer. Electrical generators aren't the only vulnerable systems. And for years now, law enforcement, security, and intelligence officials, all of whom have a stake in protecting the Internet, have complained that companies aren't more forthcoming about their weaknesses. The government has shown a lot of sympathy for industry's plight. They understand that companies have no interest in advertising their weaknesses to investors, shareholders, and would-be hackers. But Langevin's comments show that lawmakers' patience has worn thin.

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