WASHINGTON, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- The White House is drafting an executive order to boost the U.S. defense against possible cyber attacks, after Congress failed to pass relative legislation, a newspaper report said on Saturday.
The draft order, which could take months to finish, would create a special council involving key government agencies to identify threats that could compromise critical sectors, while also setting voluntary standards to guide companies on how to prevent cyber attacks, The Washington Post reported.
An executive order "is among the things we're considering to fulfill the president's direction to us to do absolutely everything we can to better protect our nation against today's cyber threats," White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden was quoted as saying.
Due to opposition from the Chamber of Commerce and the Republicans, the U.S. Congress failed this summer to pass a bill to bolster the defense against cyber attacks that could paralyze critical U.S. infrastructure, including electric grids, water supply facilities and communications networks.
The Republicans are opposed to the bill, claiming that even voluntary standards on companies for bolstering cyber defense are a regulatory burden on business.
Last month, John Brennan, President Barack Obama's top advisor on homeland security and counterterrorism, said that an executive order was a good vehicle to make sure "the nation is protected."
"If the Congress is not going to act on something like this, then the president wants to make sure that we're doing everything possible," he added.
Under the draft order, an interagency Cybersecurity Council, led by the Department of Homeland Security, would be created to include representatives from the Commerce, Defense, Treasury, Energy and Justice departments as well as from the Director of National Intelligence's Office.
The proposed council will develop security standards against cyber attacks, which would be written by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, an arm of the Commerce Department. Companies could determine what technologies to use to improve their own cyber security, the newspaper report said.