Senate Bill 773: What it means for Cyber Security and Cybercrime

Allow me to frame the threat of cybercrime that we all face by quoting from Jeff Debrosse’s 2009 Cybersecurity Review white paper:

  1. Cybercriminals are global and often well organized.
  2. They are smaller and more maneuverable than most corporations.
  3. Some are sheltered by certain G8 economic countries’ policies and laws. Their thefts fuel their home country’s economy and they aren’t prosecuted if the crime is beyond the border.
  4. They collaborate in the design and use of malware as their tools.

The cybercriminals are faster and have shelter from litigation and arrest. We are up for the challenge, but this doesn’t fall strictly on the shoulders of the government. Those of us in the private sector can do much more to contribute.

Related Video: Feel free to watch the front lines of the FBI and US Attorneys cybercrime units talk about public private cooperation.

With President Obama citing an estimated $1 trillion in global intellectual property lost annually, we’ve got to do something or every bit of Intellectual Property our innovative little elves in keebler trees can think up will be offshored and in production before the patent ink dries on the application.

Let me bring this threat of stolen IP closer to home for most of us. It’s not just about knockoff handbags or $5 pirated copies of Windows OS, it’s about manufactured items like counterfeit safety parts infiltrating parts pipelines. The bottom line is that where there’s no oversight in manufacturing to keep people from saving a buck or three by using a weaker than specified alloy or failure rated part, there’s no guarantee you will get the quality required to save your life.

Like the airbags in your car. Or the brakes on the commercial jet you’re flying in.

So is there hope for the future?

In keeping with that, Congress is offering one potential solution:

S. 773: Cybersecurity Act of 2009

This is an excerpt from the text of the bill (status: Introduced in Senate). Jump to this paragraph in the full text. .

To ensure the continued free flow of commerce within the United States and with its global trading partners through secure cyber communications, to provide for the continued development and exploitation of the Internet and intranet communications for such purposes, to provide for the development of a cadre of information technology specialists to improve and maintain effective cyber security defenses against disruption, and for other purposes.


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In the near future we will be dedicating some time to digging into the bits of this Senate Bill to find all the controversy and get granular on the benefits. First up, let’s talk about what I like: the direction and educational efforts towards a national cybersecurity awareness campaign.


This is an excerpt from the text of the bill (status: Introduced in Senate). Jump to this paragraph in the full text. .

The Secretary of Commerce shall develop and implement a national cybersecurity awareness campaign that–
  • (1) is designed to heighten public awareness of cybersecurity issues and concerns;
    (2) communicates the Federal Government’s role in securing the Internet and protecting privacy and civil liberties with respect to Internet-related activities; and
    (3) utilizes public and private sector means of providing information to the public, including public service announcements.
    (Powered by



    In particular this part appeals to me. Having spent the past year and some months working with the Securing Our eCity educational campaign, cybersecurity awareness is near and dear to my heart. David Harley was kind enough to donate his expertise in creating a simple to understand password security handout. Everyone we contacted was 150% dedicated in sharing their knowledge – any industry knowledge – in getting the message out to the masses that first, there is cybercrime and second, you don’t have to be connected to the internet to become a victim.


    We are seeing the measurable results here in San Diego, although it will take years to become fully effective. There are Disney cartoons which right now show cyber safety tips between shows. There are legislators who are hearing from their constituents about the issues. More and more community groups are getting up to date on the threats we all face in the 21st century.

    How you can help: get involved in discussions

    1. If you’re an industry expert or just Joe or Jane Blogger, check out the easiest to read site on pending legislation I’ve found: and find the bills that matter.
    2. Post up the details and debate it. I’ll do the same here and we’ll dive deeply into the granular issues.
    3. Blog it. Twitter it. Facebook it. Just DO IT. Use the bill’s twitter codes built into See if you can be snarky with 140 characters or less.

    Frankly, I welcome debate about the particulars. The devil’s in the details and in order to be heard, one first has to be clear, concise, and coherent. The more discussion these bills have, the better a chance they have of actually accomplishing something aside from killing trees for the paper they’re printed on.

    Securing Our eCity Contributing Writer

    Author , ESET

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