President Barack Obama’s administration is drafting an executive order that would create a program protecting vital computer networks from cyber attacks, according to two former government officials with direct knowledge of the effort.
The program, to be managed by the Department of Homeland Security, would establish cybersecurity standards that companies could voluntarily adopt to better protect banks, telecommunication networks and the U.S. power grid from electronic attacks, the officials, who have seen the draft, said on condition of anonymity because the document hasn’t been made public.
Senate Republicans and business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce blocked the cybersecurity bill. They said the voluntary standards would be a back door to government regulation of companies. The bill was sponsored by Senators Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, and Susan Collins, a Maine Republican.
One issue that the proposed directive didn’t clearly explain is how much authority DHS would have to tell businesses what they must do to protect their computer systems from attack. The document says only that the department would plan “requirements for vulnerability and risk assessments.”