In November 2011, hackers using an IP address in Russia attacked a water plant in Illinois. The hackers were able to turn a water pump on and off so frequently that it broke. While the incident caused no other damage and did not shut down the water system, it was the first known instance of a malicious foreign attack on this nation's critical infrastructure, and it demonstrated how vulnerable such vital services as waterworks, the electrical grid, oil and gas pipelines and the telecom system are to hackers. It also lent urgency to efforts in Congress to enact legislation to make critical industries less vulnerable to attack.

For several years, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), pictured at right, has been trying to pass a cybersecurity bill that would resolve issues around privacy and the sharing of information among critical industries and the Department of Homeland Security, and also require Homeland Security to establish standards and a testing program to make sure those industries are taking the needed steps to harden their operations against cyberattacks.

His bill, the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, has been stalled by opposition from much of the business community, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber objects to the measure's emphasis on increased regulation. Lieberman's office insists that the regulations would only apply to a narrow group of critical industries such as power companies and telecom companies, whose failure could be "devastating to the U.S. economy and even to people's lives," as one staffer puts it. Such companies, the staffer adds, are "already heavily regulated by the government."

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