(Reuters) – Leading U.S. senators plan to introduce a cybersecurity bill on Tuesday aimed at safeguarding the nation’s water and power systems, which experts have warned often only have the most rudimentary protections against hackers.
Senators John Rockefeller and Dianne Feinstein, both Democrats; Susan Collins, a Republican, and Joseph Lieberman, an independent, have drafted a comprehensive bill that would require the secretary of homeland security to designate certain infrastructure as critical and compel steps to safeguard against hackers.
“The prospect of mass casualty is what has propelled us to make cybersecurity a top priority for this year, to make it an issue that transcends political parties or ideology,” Rockefeller told the Senate on Tuesday morning.
He noted hackers’ success in breaking into sensitive government agencies and Fortune 500 companies, and warned that air traffic control, rail switching networks and chemical pipelines could be the next target.
“We can act now and try and prepare ourselves as best as we can, or we can wait and we will be surprised with what happens. I’m here to argue that we should act now,” Rockefeller said.
The legislation would also ease information-sharing between the federal government and the private sector to combat cyber crime and espionage, and would require the government to take steps to secure its own networks.
Last, it would update recruitment of cybersecurity experts into the federal workforce.
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