The Cybersecurity Act would also create a framework for federal agencies and the private sector to exchanges information about cyberthreats or malicious software that can destroy computer networks if it's not detected. Provisions were included in the bill to ensure privacy and civil liberties aren't violated, said the bill's primary sponsors, Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.
But the Chamber and other Republicans support a competing bill drafted by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., that is similar to legislation passed by the House in late April. Those bills are focused only on the sharing of threat information between the federal government and private sector. The White House threatened to veto the House bill, however, over concerns the bill didn't do enough to protect privacy rights.
Dempsey and other national security officials said more than just information sharing is needed. Key to addressing the threat is the adoption of basic security requirements that will harden critical infrastructure networks and make it more difficult for cyberattackers to succeed.
"Minimum standards will help ensure there is no weak link in our infrastructure," Dempsey wrote in his letter to Rockefeller.
Speaking to reporters after the vote, Lieberman said he's not optimistic an agreement can be reached, but is open to discussions.
"The threat is so real," he said. "None of us are going to walk away from the table."