recommended reading

Will Businesses Be Forced to Say If They've Been Hacked?


The idea is still a long way from reality, but Congress has taken the first step toward requiring companies to admit when their networks have been hacked.

The proposed rule on data breaches appears as part of a larger draft bill being circulated in the House Judiciary Committee. On top of raising the maximum penalty for computer crimes, the unnamed legislation gives businesses 14 days to disclose a security breach after they find out about it. In the case of a "major" breach, that window shrinks to a mere 72 hours, and involves the FBI or the Secret Service.

Any firm that handles personal information will be subject to the rule, except those that work under HIPAA--the federal health privacy law--and some financial institutions.

With cyberintrusions on the rise globally, lawmakers were bound to take up hacking disclosure eventually. Part of the problem facing Congress is that there's no single law governing data-breach notification. Industries are regulated differently according to which state they operate in and what kind of business they do. In fact, most state hacking-disclosure laws were passed in the last 10 years, after California became the first to do so.

A similar situation exists in Europe, where E.U. officials have introduced their own draft regulation on data breaches, saying the mostly voluntary system it has now is "too fragmented" and leaves the region more vulnerable. Opponents have argued the proposal is burdensome because of its requirement that notifications take place within 24 hours of a data breach.

If the European plan gets approved, it could boost the chances that Congress will pass something like it, although this isn't the first time Washington has tried dealing with data-breach notifications. In 2011, Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., circulated a draft data-breach bill that would also have forced companies to scrub their drives of user data once they no longer needed it. Under that legislation, companies would have had 48 hours to admit they had been compromised--more than the 24 hours that the E.U.'s suggesting, but less than the 72 hours given to firms by the House draft.

Read the full text of the bill here.

(Image via vonzolomon/

Threatwatch Alert

Stolen credentials

14M University Email Accounts for Sale on Dark Web

See threatwatch report


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.