Defend against cyberattacks
Washington policymakers agree on the danger that cyberattacks pose to the U.S. financial, energy and communications infrastructure. Yet disagreement over the solution -- notably the extent of private companies sharing information with the government -- torpedoed cybersecurity legislation in the Senate late last year.
That hasn't stopped the Obama administration or lawmakers in both parties from continuing to work to improve cybersecurity, either through an executive order or drafting new legislation. Companies in the financial sector, communications industry and defense are especially engaged in the debate, concerned about their liability for revealing customer information and which government agency would be in charge of information sharing.
But government contractor Edward Snowden's revelations about the National Security Agency's monitoring programs may make it harder to pass broad reform. After all, privacy concerns were at the heart of Snowden's decision to leak classified information.
"We are still in the infancy of understanding cybersecurity -- perhaps analogous to the late 1940s in the nuclear age," wrote Michael Nacht, professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley. "We are thus embarking on an extensive period of analysis, debate and implementation to determine how to make our cybernetworks -- and all that they enable us to do -- secure."