Cyber Security and Cyber Laws

Cyber attacks against government, as well as public and private networks have increased significantly demonstrating the need for the establishment of cyber response programs that aim at investigating and apprehending perpetrators of such cases. Experts expect the frequency and negative impact of cyber crime to continue growing over time, a factor that places cyber security among the top national priorities after counterintelligence and counterterrorism. Cyber attackers have augmented their cyber activities in the recent time with the greatest targets being stealing intellectual property, organization secrets, identities and unauthorized money transfers. However, other cyber criminals target national infrastructure such as the power grid and water supply systems, which makes such, attacks national security priorities. However, the absence and ineffectiveness of the current cyber laws has overly undermined efforts by government agencies such as Homeland Security and FBI to monitor and avert such attacks.

Despite the predisposition that cyber threats might surpass terrorism in the future, owing to the increased cyber capabilities of the attackers in different countries, the Congress still lags behind in passing and implementation of effective cyber laws. Therefore, the activities of Homeland Security and FBI in strengthening the cyber capabilities of the nation are still under duress. The more the Congress hesitates with the enactment of effective cyber laws; the more cyber criminals exploit their freedom by target the US, its companies and citizens at a larger scale. In addition, the absence of effective cyber laws provides the opportunity for cyber criminals to work closely with terrorist organizations and launch coordinated attacks that might have greater economic and national consequences.


The Heartbleed vulnerability that led to the compromise of numerous websites that utilize the OpenSSL encryption demonstrated ineffectiveness of cyber security legislation. DHS officials claimed the failure of the Congress to approve and implement cyber security legislation undermined its response to the Heartbleed menace. Larry Zelvin asserted that DHS working with the government would have responded faster to this vulnerability with effective cyber laws and understandable authorities with regard to cyber security. Currently, DHS cannot function effectively because the Congress has not enacted and updated cyber laws, which delineate the roles, as well as the responsibilities of individuals and groups, charged with the protection of government, company and individual networks, for instance, the civilian network security. Therefore, poorly defined and outdated cyber laws continue predating on efforts of the DHS and other cyber security response agencies, which increases the nation and its people to cyber attacks. Terror groups have expressed their intentions by targeting US-hosted websites with some working on acquiring cyber weapons that might cause physical harm.

In the future, terror organizations will reach out to criminal groups that possess cyber crime capabilities with the intention of launching cyber weapons. Therefore, the Congress should enact new cyber laws and update those require revising in order to effectively deal with and possibly avert cyber attacks that might cause physical harm. Otherwise, failures of the Congress might have negative consequences because Homeland Security working together with other government agencies might not detect and respond accordingly to future cyber attacks from within and outside the US. Nevertheless, approved cyber laws should protect companies against civil lawsuits because allowing government agencies to investigate cyber crimes might require the disclosure of personal user information. In some way, the deadlock between companies, government agencies and lobbyist groups have also undermined authorization of essential cyber security legislation. Hence, the Congress should focus efforts towards resolving the deadlock on voluntary cooperation and mandatory regulation so that the DHS, FBI and other bodies proceed with uninterrupted averting of future cyber attacks.

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Homeland Security, Domestic Terrorism and Local Law Enforcement Agencies

Ever since the creation of DHS and the renewed emphasis on terrorism, United States authorities have managed to avert numerous terror plots. However, the nature of terrorist attacks has evolved with rise social networking and internet usage. Currently, terrorist organizations have altered their communication and recruitment strategies where they now focus their efforts towards domestic terrorism. These organizations understand the vulnerabilities of DHS and have started recruiting individuals within the US to perform terror attacks. Therefore, terrorism has assumed another turn, which makes effecting terror attacks easier, especially because DHS might not suspect and track domestic terrorists.

Domestic terrorism requires profound and decentralized intelligence-gathering strategies because it goes beyond the scope and capabilities of federal governments and their respective security agencies. It requires input from law enforcement agencies at different government levels in order to detect and monitor the activities of domestic terrorists. Averting domestic terrorism might require a new approach of policing where law enforcement agencies train police officers on not just the conventional criminal activity, but also the current cultural shift to homegrown terrorism.

DHS, FBI and other law enforcement agencies ought to forge strong partnerships with regard to domestic counterterrorism in order to beat this cultural shift. The DHS should encourage local law enforcement agencies to adopt uniform and thorough training on standards that pertain to domestic counterterrorism in order to avert homegrown terror plots. Homeland Security should tender terrorism-related training to local authorities and assist them in establishing intelligence centers to investigate domestic terrorism, when considering the consequences this might have on overall national security. However, federal governments should dedicate their resources to the augmentation of local intelligence on potential domestic terrorists before they cause societal and economic damages. Homeland Security might also oversee the assessment of possible policies to address the emerging threat from domestic terrorism so that security issues receive firsthand responses at local levels.

Different terror activities from Nidal Hassan, the army major who engaged in the 2009 shooting of his military colleagues expresses the imperativeness of training local authorities on domestic terrorism. However, Hassans case is just among the many radicalized American nationals who might plot terror attacks within the US. over time, Homeland Security has experienced upsurges of terror plots from organizations that have no links with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. In fact, according to Anti-Defamation League and other nongovernmental organizations that pursue domestic terrorism, threats involving domestic groups are imminent. Therefore, the DHS cannot overlook the possibilities that complete domestic groups can undertake terror activities in different states, especially those that entertain criminal gangs.

In recent times, local enforcement agencies have managed to prevent terror plots in tourist-saturated and high population regions, mostly involving the transportation system. Most lone-wolf and domestic terror plots occur under federal radar because their small scope. Nevertheless, as local authorities create partnerships with DHS, they cannot disregard the input of nongovernmental agencies that track perpetrators of domestic terror plots because such groups have more insights on factors that contribute to such activities, as well as who to target. Therefore, the DHS should consider forming partnerships with all groups that might promote effective tracking of domestic terrorist at the local levels.

However, local authorities can detect them and take appropriate measures because of greater understanding of their sections of jurisdiction. Hence, extending the capabilities of Homeland Security to local enforcement agencies can assist substantially in fighting the emerging threat of homegrown radicalism and domestic terror. However, as the DHS contributes to the prevention of domestic terror attacks, federal governments should provide access to the indispensable resources and assist in the enactment of policies that integrate intelligence activities between the involved agencies. Local authorities will have to transform their previous operational culture through training on counterterrorism in order to engage in cooperative partnership with DHS for effective combating of domestic terror plots.

Homeland Security and the Enforcement of Immigration Laws

Homeland Security works closely with ICE to enforce immigration laws so that public safety and border security are achieved. The Congress awards ICE annual funds to effect identification and deportation of a certain percentage of over ten million illegal immigrants from the US. Therefore, as ICE and DHS enforce immigration laws, they ought to prioritize the groups to remove from the American society. As a result, ICE and DHS mostly target criminal offenders, regular violators of immigration laws, and those who get captured crossing the border. Homeland Security gives greater attention to border security and the upsurge of illegal immigrants because of their connection to the entry of weapons, drugs and contraband all of which undermine national security.

In the recent times, DHS has placed greater focus on the illegal immigrants with criminal convictions. Homeland Security and ICE have refocused their arrests and deportations activities on those illegal immigrants with criminal convictions because they pose greater threats to national defense. The targeting of this group ensures that the American society eliminates those who threaten their public safety, considering that the Congress awards limited financing for processing deportation. Focusing more on illegal immigrants without criminal records undermines capabilities of the agencies to deal with those who pose immediate threats.

In 2013, ICE released approximately 68,000 illegal immigrants despite having criminal felonies. The move backed by the DHS generated criticism about Obamas administration commitment in enforcing immigration laws. The DHS cited that the administration focuses on following prosecutorial judgment policies as a display of the regimes humane conduct against illegal immigrants. Republicans express their dissatisfaction about how Obama is enforcing immigration laws and deportations. ICE reports reflect that the US deported about 28 percent of the illegal immigrants encountered within the US in 2013 when judged against those in 2012.

However, since the adoption of the renewed emphases on secure communities, fewer illegal immigrants pose minimal threats to national security. Therefore, the implementation of the Secure Communities Program might assist in the discovery and exclusion of deportable illegal immigrants who compromise national security. The use of this program in local jails will efficiently work towards eliminating dangerous illegal immigrants. The refocusing of the DHS priorities to take individuals who threaten community safety, national and border securities into account will allow the department to work objectively.

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Previously, the DHS functioned less objectively in the exclusion of threats to national safety. Most efforts were focused towards numerous deportations of illegal immigrants without concentrating on what prompted its collaboration with ICE. Therefore, deportation of those without priors has undercut the funds set aside for the removal of those with criminal offenses. In some way, focusing on the identified priorities will ensure the ICE budget achieves the required targets in terms of ensuring border and national securities. In recent times, the partnership with ICE has received excessive politicization making the department lose sight of the entire national and border securities agenda. As a result, the previous enforcement of immigration laws has focused on those illegal immigrants who might not pose threats and failed to deliver on the criminal and dangerous immigrants.

Therefore, the current review and refocusing of the DHS policies towards apprehending the firsthand criminal immigrants will contribute highly to national security and public safety. Currently, the DHS is assuming its initial role without excessive focus on those who pose minimal threats to community safety and security. The adoption of the Secure Communities program run between local jails and the FBI will greatly augment the outcomes of identifying and deporting those who enter the US and engage in criminal activities that endanger the public and the entire nation at large.

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