Many top executives of Fortune 500 companies generally support the use of legislation to boost U.S. cybersecurity, including a program of voluntary standards for companies, according to a report released by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller.
Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, sent a series of questions in September to all Fortune 500 chief executive officers, asking about their companies’ cybersecurity practices and their views on the federal government’s role in computer security. Cybersecurity legislation sponsored by Rockefeller failed last year.
Among about 300 responses so far, many CEOs favor a voluntary program of cybersecurity standards developed by the federal government and companies along with increased sharing of information on cyber threats, according to the report prepared by Rockefeller’s Democratic committee staff. According to the report, which didn’t disclose the names of the companies or executives who responded, many companies expressed concern about mandatory cybersecurity requirements
It characterized few executives as sharing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “vehement opposition” to government involvement. The largest U.S. business lobby said voluntary standards proposed in last year’s legislation would be a back door leading to new government regulation of companies.
CEOs at financial and electric companies expressed concern that new cybersecurity rules would disrupt their work with existing regulators, while others stressed the need to protect the confidentiality of information shared with the federal government, the report said.
Obama is considering an executive order to implement some of the provisions of the failed Senate bill, as Rockefeller and other Senate Democratic committee leaders plan a new effort to push cyber legislation. Rockefeller, who was first elected to the Senate in 1984, has said he won’t seek re-election next year.
The Senate Commerce Committee report comes follows a spate of cyber attacks against online banking sites that accelerated in September. The denial-of-service attacks targeting U.S. banks, including JP Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) and PNC Financial Services Group Inc. (PNC), have caused website disruptions for some customers.
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