New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner recently announced that the state's Republican Presidential Primary will be held on January 10, once again serving as the opening bell for the election season. In years past, such news would have little implications for the Web security industry, but that's not so this time around, as the country gets ready to elect its next leader.
In addition to the age-old campaign staples like taxes and government spending, cybersecurity has been added to the platforms of many candidates seeking public office, including those who wish to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012.
Given the increased attention paid to cyberattacks and their damaging results this year, various lawmakers have called for the passage of Internet security legislation. Currently, several proposed laws are making their way through the legislative process, but none have come close to becoming law.
In terms of the upcoming elections, the Obama administration already fired one of the first shots of the campaign season in the cybersecurity debate.
Howard Schmidt, Obama's cybersecurity coordinator and special assistant, contributed a piece to the White House Blog that argued "the time is ripe for cybersecurity legislation." The Obama administration has not been shy about its views on data security since it took over the Oval Office in 2009, but this latest move may have been made with an eye on 2012.
"We need Congressional leaders to move forward with a cross-committee and bipartisan approach," Schmidt wrote for the blog. "The time is ripe to make proposal into law, and give the government and private sector the extra tools needed to fight those who would harm us."
Not to be outdone, Republican candidate Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts and consensus GOP frontrunner heading into the primaries, has also demonstrated a focus on cybersecurity initiatives.
Early last month, the Associated Press reported that some of the members of Romney's campaign staff, including those who may join him should he be elected the nation's 45th president, have a background in Internet security matters. According to the AP, Cofer Black, the former top CIA official and the current vice president of Global Operations for Blackbird Technologies, is serving as a special adviser to Romney.
The report did not reveal to what extent Black is involved in Romney's campaign, but the candidate has pledged to created a "unified national strategy" in terms of protection against cyber threats. He has also said that "defense and intelligence resources must be fully engaged" for cybersecurity initiatives.
Despite the discussions being held within the Oval Office and on the stage at Republican debates, some voters may still be asking themselves if politicians' concerns are legitimate or just part of the overblown dog and pony show that accompanies many elections.
But while it's true that campaign promises come and go – and others seemingly go unresolved for decades – it would appear that cybersecurity is more than just pundit fodder. Internet security has become a serious problem for some of the most recognizable corporations in the world. And the rise of attacks on government institutions through either hacking incidents or malware doesn't appear to be slowing down any time soon.
Fortunately, it appears as though the candidates have recognized such problems and plan to address them if elected.
Currently, there is no requirement for companies to involve the federal government in any way when they suffer a data breach, according to the blog. While some companies, politicians and U.S. citizens would like to keep it that way, Schmidt argued that the opposite is what would actually be helpful.
The more aware of cyberattacks the government is, the better it can help protect critical infrastructure.
"In cases of cybersecurity incidents that can damage our critical infrastructure such as the electric grid or our financial, transportation, and communication networks – damage that can put our national security, public safety, and economic prosperity at risk – the federal government must know what is happening so that it can take steps to bring adversaries to justice and help protect Americans," Schmidt wrote.
But those running for office, or hoping to be re-elected, aren't the only ones calling for the government as a whole to step up for cybersecurity. Janet Napolitano, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, recently said that Congress has a responsibility to pass cybersecurity legislation.
According to Bloomberg, Napolitano said that bipartisan support for cybersecurity legislation would go a long way in controlling attacks that are "increasing in frequency and complexity and in consequence."
She added that any work done for improving cybersecurity must strike a balance between involvement by public and private organizations.
Because both sides are susceptible to data security incidents, it's necessary that each are on board.
Data Security News from SimplySecurity.com by Trend Micro