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Cyber security a game-changer on Capitol Hill?

Cyber security a game-changer on Capitol Hill?

WASHINGTON — The day after the Obama administration announced the formation of a U.S. cyber security agency, a senior lawmaker said cyber security is one of the issues that holds the potential for bipartisan cooperation on Capitol Hill.

And cyber insurance “has the potential of changing behavior” by encouraging businesses and others to protect against cyber attacks, said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., during an address to the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers legislative summit Wednesday in Washington.

The Council supports legislation that would promote cyber risk information sharing between the government and private sector. The group says that such legislation needs to afford businesses safe harbors against “frivolous lawsuits when voluntarily sharing and receiving threat indicators and countermeasures in real time,” according to a position paper.

“The potential for economic havoc is enormous,” said Sen. Carper, referring to potential cyber crimes. He said hack attacks that have targeted a variety of forms of intellectual property, including medical research, as an example of the threat.

President Barack Obama has moved cyber security to the top of his 2015 agenda after recent hacking attacks against Sony Pictures, Home Depot Inc., Anthem Inc., Target Corp., and the federal government itself.

Mr. Obama also sees it as an area of cooperation with the Republican-led Congress.

Cyber insurance, Sen. Carper said, can encourage businesses and other potential targets to “raise their game” by taking steps to mitigate any possible damage, he said.

Sen. Carper, who said he introduced legislation Wednesday morning to address cyber security issues, said companies that share information about cyber security should be granted some liability protection.

“The federal government needs to do a better job” of sharing information as well, he said.

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