FBI: National data-breach law would help fight cybercrime

Information-sharing by businesses could help the agency link attacks

A federal law that would require businesses to report data breaches to potential victims could help law enforcement agencies fight the growth of cybercrime, a FBI official said Wednesday.

If U.S. businesses were required to share information about their data breaches, law enforcement agencies could link those attacks to others and potentially stop similar attacks at other organizations, said Jeffrey Troy, chief of the FBI's Cyber Criminal Section.

A data-breach notification bill "would help us tremendously, particularly in terms of efficiency in conducting investigations," Troy said during a cybersecurity discussion in Washington.

Companies need to think beyond their walls when dealing with cybersecurity issues, Troy said. "They have to recognize that the Internet has become a global platform for commerce," he said. "The people that are stealing information from you ... are going after the money."

Attacks used against one company will likely be used against other organizations, Troy said. "We're really looking forward to getting all this data," he said.

Some members of Congress have pushed for several years to pass data breach notification bills, without success. Although about 45 states have passed their own data-breach notification bills, Congress has yet to pass a federal law.

Data-breach notification will be part of a comprehensive cybersecurity bill that the Senate Judiciary Committee will try to move to the Senate floor this year, said Lydia Griggsby, the committee's chief counsel for privacy and information policy. The Personal Data Privacy and Security Act, sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) would also limit how data brokers can use personal information and would establish data security rules for interstate businesses that collect personal data.

Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, will hold hearings on the bill later this year, Griggsby said.

A national data-breach notification law is a top legislative priority for cybersecurity products vendor Symantec, said David Thompson, the company's CIO. It's difficult for companies to comply with 45 different state laws, he said.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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