Cybersecurity Act Awaiting Approval In Congress

The National Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (HR3696) was introduced in Congress as the power grid attacks of 2013 finally filtered into the American consciousness. The cyber security legislation is supposed to allow communications integration centers within the Department of Homeland Security to offer real time cyber threat information.

Although the cyber terrorism bill received unanimous approval in the House of Representatives, it is not without its detractors outside of the Beltway. A growing number of potential voters are concerned that the National Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection Act could open the door for more NSA spying on citizens.

IT news website GCN had this to say about the HR 3696:

“The emergence of complex, multistage exploits that quietly penetrate critical targets by leveraging vulnerabilities several links away from the target mean that it is difficult to be sure any system is effectively isolated. Because of this level of complexity and interconnectivity, it almost is impossible to find a system that might not be rated critical.”

On February 11, cyber hackers exploited the weaknesses of the Network Time Protocol system crafted to sync computer and laptops clocks. Not knowing what time it is was not the downside of the successful hack. The cyber terrorists were able to send a “massive amount of data” to servers which could introduce “malicious attack” on online networks. Cloudfare CEO Matthew Prince said, “Someone’s got a big, new cannon and the attack is the start of ugly things to come,” on his Twitter account.


News of the California power station attack took nearly a year to make headlines. Less than a week after the California power grid terrorism attack last April, a similar incident occurred at a Tennessee nuclear facility. A TVA Watts Bar Nuclear Plant security guard was involved in a 2am shootout with an armed suspect. The Spring City guard was unable to catch the gunman who had somehow gotten inside the nuclear plant.

A WBIR report on the possible terrorism attack read:

“TVA spokesperson Jim Hopson said the subject traveled up to the plant on a boat and walked onto the property. When the officer questioned the suspect, the individual fired multiple shots at the officer. The officer shot back, and when he called for backup, the suspect sped away on his boat.”

The timing and sophistication of the attacks has led many to believe that the Tennessee and California events were related, well-planned, and a dress rehearsal for things to come. The two possible terrorism attacks prompted enhanced discussion about America’s “soft targets” and how the vulnerable power grid could end life as we know it if destroyed either physically or in a high-tech cyber attack.

Do you think the power grid is a vulnerable terrorism target?

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