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A Divided Congress Confronts a Rising Cyberthreat
The Associated Press | April 23, 2012 | 09:51 AM EDT

The mysterious caller claimed to be from Microsoft and offered step-by-step instructions to repair damage from a software virus. The electric power companies weren't falling for it.

The caller, who was never traced or identified, helpfully instructed the companies to enable specific features in their computers that actually would have created a trapdoor in their networks. That vulnerability would have allowed hackers to shut down a plant and thrown thousands of customers into the dark.

The power employees hung up on the caller and ignored the advice.

The incident from February, documented by one of the government's emergency cyber-response teams, shows the persistent threat of electronic attacks and intrusions that could disrupt the country's most critical industries.

The House this coming week will consider legislation to better defend these and other corporate networks from foreign governments, cybercriminals and terrorist groups. But deep divisions over how best to handle the growing problem mean that solutions are a long way off.

Chief among the disputes is the role of the government in protecting the private sector.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups oppose requiring cybersecurity standards. Rules imposed by Washington would increase their costs without reducing their risks, they say.

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