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FCW : July 30, 2015
The Justice Department and some law- makers are concerned about potential gaps in the government’s ability to pros- ecute cybercrimes under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and are seeking to update the law to reflect the chal- lenges of cyberspace. The law dates back to 1986. “Tech- nology has changed a great deal since then,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) at a hearing of the Senate Judi- ciary Committee’s Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee earlier this month. David Bitkower, deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Depart- ment’s Criminal Division, agreed. “We do have currently authorities and capa- bilities to address a vast array of cyber- crime, but we have observed through prosecutions and investigations we’ve done that there are gaps in certain areas,” he said. He added that a recent federal appeals court decision has led circuit courts to differ in their application of parts of the law. Additionally, some uses of technology by cybercriminals are not covered in the statute. Security experts have expressed con- cerns about an Obama administration proposal that would target certain cat- egories of insider threats by punishing individuals who exceeded their autho- rized access to a computer. The goal is to prosecute employees who use private information on their company or its customers for nefari- ous purposes. However, security researchers said the measure could compromise their efforts to probe sites and services for weaknesses. “We understand that creating a carve-out is a challenge [because] often researchers’ efforts mirror those of cybercriminals, despite radically dif- ferent intentions,” said Jen Ellis, senior director of community and public affairs at security firm Rapid7, at the hearing. “We strongly urge the com- mittee to consider this problem and whether there is a way to create an exemption for research, perhaps based around intent or outcomes.” Bitkower said the updates were not intended for trivial or unknowing vio- lations or for researchers or security professionals. “We’re not interested in prosecuting those cases,” he said. — Adam Mazmanian Justice Dept. seeks new authorities to fight cybercrime is earmarked for DHS’ Einstein in the fiscal 2016 funding bill $474 million It might not feel that way for cash- strapped agencies, but the past two years have been relatively stable on the budget front. As we move toward Oct. 1 and fiscal 2016, however, that’s about to change. Come Sept. 30, the deal struck in December 2013 to lift the Budget Control Act caps expires — which means seques- tration is back. Congressional Repub- licans have been moving appro- priations bills that adhere to those spending limits, while Democratic legislators and the White House are asserting that the resulting cuts are non-starters. And although we have two full calendar months until fiscal 2015 funding expires, there are far fewer legislative days available for Congress to hash out a funding deal. Longtime budget analyst Stan Collender, who recently pegged the likelihood of a shutdown at 33 percent, noted that there are less than a dozen real workdays for Congress between now and Oct. 1 — and many of them are already promised to non- appropriations issues. In theory, a budget deal is still possible, but the realistic best-case scenario is yet another continuing resolution to extend funding into December, with Congress returning for a special session to work out fiscal 2016 funding then. And if one side mis- calculates — or if even a handful of legislators dig in their heels — then we may once again see systems powering down and federal work- ers staying home to start the fiscal year. Technology, of course, is not a sticking point in the budget debate, but the federal IT community will feel the fallout nonetheless. Even if a continuing resolution is passed without drama, we’re still looking at another autumn without the budget clarity needed to plan and properly manage programs. The relative stability of fiscal 2015 helped federal IT get out of its defensive crouch. So it’s truly unfor- tunate that, as Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) recently put it, “the fall is shaping up to be the most predict- able — and, really, avoidable — budget crisis in memory.” — Troy K. Schneider firstname.lastname@example.org @troyschneider EDITOR’S NOTE Are we seriously talking about shutdowns again? July 30, 2015 FCW.COM 9 WIKIMEDIA.ORG 0730fcw_004-011.indd 9 7/15/15 1:47 PM
July 15, 2015
August 15, 2015