“The Chamber urges Congress to not complicate or duplicate existing industry-driven security standards with government mandates and bureaucracies, even if they are couched in language that would mischaracterize these standards as ‘voluntary.’”
Additional regulatory concerns are also cited for telecommunications companies that face having to enforce measures on their many users; energy companies, as the electricity system moves to a computer-controlled “smart grid”; and financial institutions, seen as a high-value target for hackers.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the company that most often mentioned “cybersecurity” in its submissions in 2011 was Comcast. In addition to its better-known TV services, Comcast is a major Internet provider in the U.S., with more than 18 million customers.
Bryner, of the CRP, also noted the cybersecurity uptick marked the rapid professionalization of Silicon Valley’s lobbying operations in Washington, as Internet-related legislation came to the fore.
She cited Google as an example of the growth of Internet companies’ representation in the capital, across not just cybersecurity but a whole range of regulatory issues.
“Google has already nearly tripled their [overall] year-to-date spending,” she said, calling them the “standard-bearer for that industry with regard to lobbying activity.”
The Center’s Web site shows Google’s lobbying spending increasing from around $5 million in 2010 to more than $14 million for year-to-date 2012.
“In a matter of one or two years, they’ve gone from relative lobbying obscurity to being one of the top lobbying clients across the country,” Bryner concluded.
Lobbying activity is also focused on attracting cybersecurity business from the federal government. Many defense and information technology contractors have made this a priority as the Obama administration has identified cybersecurity as an area where federal money will be rising even among general cuts.
Deltek’s Federal Information Security Market forecasts U.S. federal spending in the area to increase from $9.2 billion last year to more than $14 billion by the end of President Obama’s second term.
In the end, all the money and energy spent on cyberdefense is because of rising cyber attacks. According to the Government Accountability Office, over the past five years, the number of incidents reported by federal agencies to the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), the body that tracks information on cyber attacks, has increased from 5,503 incidents in 2006 to 41,776 incidents in 2010, an increase of more than 650 percent.