Earlier today President Obama participated in the 2012 National Level Exercise (NLE), sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a part of its mandate to regularly test and evaluate our ability to respond to and recover from catastrophic events. Today’s exercise examined challenges related to managing a cyber incident involving physical impacts on our nation’s critical infrastructure. As a part of this exercise, the President hosted a Cabinet meeting to discuss with his leadership team the time-sensitive decisions that would have to be made if a significant cyber event affected critical infrastructure systems.
The NLE is an important tool in the government’s efforts to protect the United States in the event of a cyber incident affecting our critical infrastructure. An increase in reported cyber intrusions into our nation’s critical infrastructure networks shows that these systems are not being adequately protected. Last May, the Administration sent a legislative proposal to the Congress that would give the Federal government and private sector new tools to ensure our most vital critical infrastructure systems are properly secured. The Senate is now considering legislation that would build on the Administration’s proposal to protect critical infrastructure. As President Obama said in his State of the Union address, we need Congress to pass legislation to secure the nation from the growing danger of cyber threats, while safeguarding the privacy and civil liberties of our citizens. The American people expect their government to ensure the cybersecurity of the critical infrastructure upon which so much of our national security, economic well-being, and daily lives depend.