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What would an Internet kill switch really mean?

The Internet shutdown in Eqypt last month raised questions regarding whether the U.S. would be able to do the same with a so-called Internet kill switch bill.

This is not the first time such a bill has been discussed. The Rockefeller-Snowe bill last year contained a kill-switch option before it was pulled out.

Fears are circulating that this ability would be used to censor the Internet or take away access to the public. But the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act (S.3480) is expressly about being able to thwart a cyberattack on what is deemed critical infrastructure.

I’m suspicious of that, really, despite the efforts of the bill’s sponsors to sort out myth from reality. And I seriously doubt the ability to be able to selectively shut down certain parts of the Internet without grinding the U.S. economy to a halt.

However, the shutdown concept should be considered, especially from the IT perspective, rather than the purely political. Attacks are getting more and more sophisticated and are able to target systems that where once thought to be immune from cyberattacks, like manufacturing production systems. So beyond the government thinking about the concept of a kill switch, U.S. businesses should also be thinking in terms of their own critical infrastructure and treat security as a business continuity issue.

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