US Ports Welcome Cybersecurity Advances

According to the Journal of Commerce, the House voted 307-116 to pass the Protecting Cyber Networks Act, a bill designed to lay the framework for private companies to share data about known cyberattacks with federal investigators.

New legislation passed in the U.S. House Thursday could launch a federal review of the cybersecurity protocols at the nation’s seaports, giving the most-at risk ports an idea of how they’re vulnerable and how they can strengthen their defences

Bill proponents argue a fluid system for sharing that information will allow the government to crackdown on the tools and techniques hackers use to exploit, disrupt and destroy data.

U.S. ports handle roughly $6 billion worth of goods each day. They store vast amounts of data detailing every ton of cargo that passes through their waters.

Not only are cybercriminals attracted to ports’ commercial activity, but as many ports are government-owned or -operated, they are also prone to acts of terror and nation-state sabotage according to Kimberly Peretti, a Washington attorney specializing in cybersecurity.

The House bill would provide legal liability protections to companies that share information related to cyber breaches in their network, either with other companies or with the federal government.

The House cyber bill will now go before the Senate next for consideration. The bill may have found strong support in the House, but there is some pushback from privacy and civil liberties organizations.

Bill defenders argue the House bill would provide legal liability protections for companies that share cyberthreat information, but only after undergoing a series of critical cyber privacy screenings. If a company were to share information with the government, that data would undergo two rounds of screening: once by the company and a second time by the government agency — a civilian agency, not the National Security Agency or Defense Department — tasked with analyzing the data.

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