Cable Not Included in House Cybersecurity Review

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The public-private partnership needed for effective protection of “cyber-reliant critical infrastructures” has not yet coalesced, according to a Government Accountability Office report presented at House Commerce Committee hearings.

Protecting the communications infrastructure, which includes wired, wireless and satellite facilities, is a major objective of the initiative, said Gregory Wilshusen, director of GAO’s information technology program. His study finds that neither government nor private-sector firms have achieved goals set forth during the past five years. In fact, only two of 24 recommendations of the President’s cyberspace policy review have been implemented,  according to Wilshusen.

With the looming 10th anniversary of 9/11 and MSOs’ growing role in providing broadband business facilities, the industry’s attention to cybersecurity becomes more important.

Although the GAO report never specifically mentions the cable TV industry, it implies the importance of securing the broadband network. The study focuses on the need to protect the power grid and health and financial services, among the 18 categories cited that are susceptible to cyber-security lapses. Much of the report’s focus is on IT and new services delivered via broadband systems.

“The connectivity between information systems, the Internet, and other infrastructures, [creates] opportunities for attackers to disrupt telecommunications, electrical power, and other critical services,” Wilshusen said in his July 26 testimony to Congress, concluding that steps should be taken quickly to strengthen “the public-private partnerships for securing cyber-critical infrastructure.”

“Because the private sector owns most of the nation’s critical infrastructures, forming effective partnerships between the public and private sectors is vital to successfully protect cyber-reliant critical assets from a multitude of threats,” Wilshusen said.

MSOs did not respond to requests for comment about the latest federal effort to generate coordinated cybersecurity plans. In April, NCTA — along with USTA and CTIA — sent a letter to the White House and Congress vowing that, on behalf of their member companies and their facilities, they are committed to “protecting these networks and our customers from cybersecurity threats.” The associations offered a “legislative framework that [would] …strengthen security for our nation’s broadband networks.”

Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL) vowed to continue examinations of why the affected industries and government agencies have been lax in developing cybersecurity defenses.

Gary Arlen is president of Arlen Communications LLC in Bethesda, MD, and a long-time interactive TV enthusiast. Reach him at