U.S. Lawmakers Move To Protect ‘Dot-Gov’ Domains Following Massive Hacks

Picture Susan Collins
Susan Collins

U.S. lawmakers introduced a legislation on Wednesday to strengthen the authority of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to prevent cyber attacks and protect government Internet addresses, according to Reuters. Both Republican and Democratic senators signed on to the measure, introduced in response to massive breaches at the government’s hiring office.

Katherine Archuleta, chief of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), resigned this month following the computer hacks, possibly linked to China, which put personal data of some 22 million Americans at risk. The attacks prompted calls for improvements in the protection of government systems.

“This cyber attack points to a broader problem,” said Senator Susan Collins, R-Me., one of the bill’s lead sponsors.

Also read: President Obama Rumored To Create Government Agency For Cyber-Attacks

DHS Would Monitor Dot-Gov Domains

The bill would give the DHS authority to monitor all federal agencies in the “dot-gov” Internet domain. It would also operate defensive countermeasures. Currently, each agency monitors its own networks and requests DHS help when considered necessary.

The measure also would direct the department to conduct risk assessments of any network within the government domain.

Sponsors of the bill include Collins and fellow Republican Senators Dan Coats of Indiana and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, as well as Democratic Senators Mark Warner of Virginia, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and Claire McCaskill of Missouri.

Warner said the bill’s intention is for the DHS to protect “dot-gov” web addresses the same way that the National Security Agency protects “dot-mil” military addresses.

Measure Supports Another Cyber Security Bill

The senators view their bill as an amendment to another cyber security measure making its way through Congress that extends liability protection for companies sharing information on cyber attacks.

Collins, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the Senate could vote on the legislation within weeks, either before a four-week recess in August, or in early September.

Featured image from Mark Van Scyoc // Shutterstock.

Lester Coleman is a veteran business journalist based in the United States. He has covered the payments industry for several years and is available for writing assignments.