OVERNIGHT TECH: Senators observe simulated cyberattack

THE LEDE: All 100 senators were invited to a cybersecurity exercise on Wednesday evening featuring top executive branch officials, according to Senate aides.

The simulation demonstrated how the federal government would respond to an attack on the New York City electrical grid during a summer heat wave, the aides said.

ADVERTISEMENT
The FBI, the National Security Agency and John Brennan, the president's top counterterrorism adviser, participated in the demonstration.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) requested that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hold the event, based on a similar exercise after the anthrax attacks in 2001.

"Today, an interagency team of senior officials, coordinated by the White House, will brief the Senate on a hypothetical cyber attack against United States critical infrastructure networks," said Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council. "The classified scenario is intended to provide all senators with an appreciation for new legislative authorities that would help the U.S. Government prevent and more quickly respond to cyber attacks."

ADVERTISEMENT
Reid plans to bring a cybersecurity bill authored by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) to a vote in the coming weeks. The legislation would give the Homeland Security Department the power to require private computer systems deemed critical to national security to meet certain security standards.

A group of Republicans led by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is pushing an alternate proposal that would focus on encouraging information sharing about cyberthreats rather than creating new regulations.

The administration has endorsed Lieberman's bill, and Hayden warned Congress last week to not resort to "half-measures" to address cybersecurity.

FCC launches public-private initiative: Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski announced an initiative on Wednesday to expand partnerships between the government and private companies. 

The initiative will focus on launching new programs to advance the commission's goals, such as expanding broadband Internet access.

Genachowski appointed his senior counselor, Josh Gottheimer, to lead the project.


ICYMI:

Representatives of Internet service providers and telecom companies, including Comcast, AT&T and Century Link, warned lawmakers not to impose burdensome cybersecurity regulations at a House hearing on Wednesday.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) accused the FCC of ignoring his requests to meet with senior staffers over the agency's decision to grant wireless start-up LightSquared a conditional waiver last year.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday that he “doesn’t believe” that President Obama received the newest iPad in advance of its release.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) called on the Obama administration on Tuesday to investigate the extent to which federal agencies have been monitoring their employees' personal email accounts.