The House Intelligence Committee will likely act on cybersecurity legislation in the next couple of weeks following recent attacks on U.S. banks and media.
"Foreign cyber attackers are targeting every aspect of the American economy every day and Congress needs to act with urgency to protect our national security and our economy," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers of Michigan said.
"The attacks on the U.S. banking industry and now major media outlets who dared publish stories critical of the Chinese government prove this is not a theoretical threat," he said. "This is just another reminder of how relentless and sweeping China's cyber attacks are."
The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal recently reported that their computer systems had been infiltrated by Chinese-based hackers. The Washington Post on Friday revealed the discovery of a sophisticated cyberattack in 2011.
The social media network Twitter announced in a weekend blog post that hackers may have accessed information on 250,000 of its more than 200 million active users. And on Monday The Washington Free Beacon reported that sophisticated attackers targeted U.S. Energy Department networks two weeks ago.
The announcements come on the heels of cyberattacks launched against major U.S. banks.
China has been accused of mounting a widespread, aggressive cyber-spying campaign for several years, trying to steal classified information and corporate secrets and to intimidate critics. The Chinese government has denied any wrongdoing.
The House passed a bipartisan bill last year that would have given the federal government new authority to share classified cyber threat information with American companies, but the Senate never brought it up for consideration.
The chairman of the House subcommittee with oversight of telecommunications, Republican Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, said that the bill was a good starting point, and that the issue will be among his top priorities in 2013.
The challenge, he said in remarks provided to Newsmax, would be to prevent the government from overreaching.
"When you get too proscriptive, the bad guys know what the good guys are held accountable to, and they figure a way around it," he said. "It's a delicate area, but it's a serious one."
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