Software Lobby Keeping Tabs on U.S. Cybersecurity

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With all the talk around federal cybersecurity policy these days, one of the groups with the most skin in the game thought it would be a good idea to take stock of just how much progress has been made.

In that spirit, the Business Software Alliance has released a new dashboard to chart the progress of the administration's efforts since President Obama's cybersecurity address in May.

At a glance, the results might seem less than inspiring, with blanks across most of the 12 policy priorities BSA is tracking.

But the group, which serves as the primary lobby for the software industry, acknowledged that the overhaul of the government's cybersecurity strategy is a slow ship to turn.

"Policymakers at all levels understand that our economic security depends upon safeguarding online commerce and critical infrastructure and are clearly focused on key cyber-security issues," BSA President and CEO Robert Hollyeman said in a statement.

BSA's online dashboard suggests that many of the priorities outlined in the president's cybersecurity plan remain in the discussion phase. Obama said he planned to install a cyber coordinator within the White House, for instance, but that position remains unfilled.

BSA noted its concern about the delay in that appointment, a process that White House officials have said is active and ongoing, though recent months have seen some high-ranking cyber officials quit the administration, including Melissa Hathaway, who led the initial policy review.

The group also warned against a proposed Senate bill that would seat authority for cybersecurity standards and certification within the government, a measure the industry lobby said should be kept to the firms it represents.

But BSA did have kind words for some proposals in the bill, which has yet to receive a hearing or markup in the Senate commerce committee.

Among other things, the group said it supported the efforts to train more cybersecurity professionals and coordinate with foreign governments.

It worries, however, about provisions that could vest the executive branch of the government with "undefined and unrestricted" authority in the event of a cyber emergency.

Despite the reservations about the Senate bill, BSA said it supports the "vast majority" of cybersecurity actions the government has taken, including the announcement from the Department of Homeland Security of plans to hire 1,000 cybersecurity experts.

BSA also praised a Senate committee's passage of a pair of data breach and security bills, as well as the FBI's recent "Phish Phry," a sting operation that rounded up 33 prominent cyber criminals.

Kenneth Corbin is an associate editor at InternetNews.com.  Based in Washington, D.C., Kenneth's coverage areas range from government regulation to e-commerce and online media.