Assessing Prospects for New InfoSec Law

House Cybersecurity Caucus' Jim Langevin on the 113th Congress
Members of the U.S. Congress may be more sensitive to cyberthreats than they were in the past, but that doesn't mean they truly all appreciate the risk key government and private-sector IT systems face, says House Cybersecurity Caucus Co-Chair Jim Langevin.

And that lack of appreciation could thwart passage of cybersecurity legislation in the new Congress.

"I have seen a broader awareness among my colleagues, and that's a very positive thing," Langevin, D-R.I., says in an interview with Information Security Media Group. "But in terms of really understanding the issue, understanding the challenges we face in cyberspace, there is only a handful in both the House and the Senate that understand the seriousness of the issue and how complex it is and why there's such an urgency and a call to action."

The lack of urgency, coupled with a partisan rift over information security regulation, had prevented Congress from enacting comprehensive cybersecurity legislation in the 112th Congress. Still, Langevin identifies three areas of general agreement by both sides.

"FISMA [Federal Information Security Management Act] reform, information sharing and workforce development in cyber are all areas where we can try to overcome the partisan divide," Langevin says. "Now, that doesn't mean we stop there because those things really don't get us near to a level of cybersecurity where we need to be."

A Look Ahead

In the interview, Langevin addresses the:

  • Contentious, partisan divide on government regulation of the mostly privately owned critical national information infrastructure;
  • Merits of enacting comprehensive cybersecurity legislation versus passing piecemeal measures;
  • Dangers of waiting for a serious cyber-incident before Congress acts.

In the same interview (see Assessing Telecom Treaty's Impact), Langevin discusses an international telecommunications treaty, approved in Dubai in early December, that he characterizes as a veiled threat to suffocate Internet freedom internationally.

Few lawmakers on Capitol Hill can claim to be as involved in initiatives aimed at safeguarding federal IT systems and the nation's critical IT infrastructure as Langevin, who was elected to his seventh term in November. Along with Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, Langevin co-founded the House Cybersecurity Caucus. Both representatives also co-chaired the Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency, which issued a report that served as the foundation of President Obama's cyberspace policy.

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