US lawmakers urged to impose minimum cyber security standards for critical infrastructure

By Graeme Burton
16 Jun 2012 View Comments
A security pass reading 'Access All Areas'

Former US vice president nominee Senator Joseph Lieberman has urged Congressmen to pass a new law in the US that will mandate minimum cyber-security standards in order to protect critical national infrastructure from the risk of cyber attack.

Lieberman made the call after a hacker from overseas demonstrated how poor security could be by compromising the control panel of a facility belonging to a water utility in South Houston, Texas, in just 10 minutes. The hacker, who goes by the name pr0f, posted the results of his work on

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Just before that alleged attack, Joe Weiss, an industrial control systems security expert, had claimed that hackers had destroyed a pump belonging to an Illinois water utility after they gained access to the supervisory control and data acquisition systems that controlled the company's machinery.

Such incidents demonstrated "the urgent need to pass comprehensive cyber-security legislation that includes provisions safeguarding our critical infrastructure", said Lieberman.

The Senator, who is also chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, has called for Congress to vote quickly on the legislation, which will mandate the Department for Homeland Security to establish legally binding minimum standards for infrastructure cyber-security.

The proposed legislation was first introduced to Congress in February 2012.

There are a number of Bills before Congress at the moment aiming to improve the security of federal computer systems, but Lieberman believes that the Cybersecurity Bill ought to be passed because it addresses the protection of national infrastructure.

The US risked a "cyber 9/11" without better protection, he added.

"We must get started because, I guarantee you Mr President, that one day in the near future we will pass comprehensive cyber security legislation. But I fear it will be after an attack – a ‘cyber 9/11' – where infrastructure is destroyed and lives lost," said Lieberman.

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