Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
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Jan. 28, 2013

TechnoLogical: The 21st Century Nuclear Weapon

by Aanchal Johri, Online Editor-in-Chief
TechnoLogical is a weekly blog focusing on new advances in science and technology and looking critically at how the technology we already use impacts our lives. Come back next Monday for the next edition of TechnoLogical.

When computer users periodically check up on their Norton AntiVirus and McAfee scanners, they may think they are safe from all cyber threats. However, cyber security extends beyond protection from viruses found on home computers. International viruses and hackers have made their way towards the U.S. government and could potentially access the military and government’s most confidential secrets. Last Thursday, Senator John Kerry (D – Mass.) summed all of it up to the Senate Foreigns Relations Committee: "[Cyber threats are] the modern day, 21st century nuclear weapons equivalent."

US Senator John Rockefeller introduces the Cybersecurity and and American Cyber Competitiveness Act of 2013 Courtesy of U.S Senate
US Senator John Rockefeller introduces the Cybersecurity and and American Cyber Competitiveness Act of 2013
The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 failed to pass the Senate after opponents to the act did not believe that it would successfully stop cyber hackers. Soon afterwards, the Obama Administration decided to issue an executive order to carry out the details in the act anyway. However, since the executive order has the same flaws as the original act, it will not call for enough action to fully combat hackers and secure our networks. The act and the order take the same regulatory approach towards cyber security which might not be enough to stop hackers. Instead, the government needs to issue legislation that will tackle the issue through simpler, but more effective means: information sharing.

A new act, the Cybersecurity and American Cyber Competitiveness Act of 2013 calls for this very action. The legislation has been introduced in hopes to bring the public and private sectors together to collaborate against hackers. It strives to fortify identity management to stop identity theft, expand investigations into cyber threats and boost international cooperation to respond to hackers. At the same time, the act has several stipulations that will protect the privacy of citizens as well. This act shows high promise in resolving security breaches. If passed, this act will likely acknowledge the concerns that lawmakers had regarding the previous act.

While many hackers seek confidential information, some have other agendas. Several major cyber-attacks have taken place against the U.S. government since the original act was introduced in 2012. Just last Saturday, a hacktivist group called Anonymous infiltrated the Department of Justice website and threatened to release confidential government files to the public if the government did not reform the criminal justice system. Even if these hackers do not steal information for themselves, they threaten our national security when they gain access to government websites.

Securing the nation's networks from international hackers hoping to gain intelligence and American hackers hoping to send the government a message is vital to preventing security breaches. The Cybersecurity Act, and perhaps even stricter legislation, should be passed in order to maintain our national security.

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