As technology and connectivity continue to pervade much of Americans' lives, the worry over large-scale cyber crime attacks grows. Criminals whose weapon is technology can take down the U.S. energy, financial or communications infrastructure. Those who earn a cyber crime degree or online cyber crime degree may be called to help fight such attacks.
"We are incredibly vulnerable," Mike McConnell, President George W. Bush's former national intelligence director, told CNN. "If we don't make our policy makers think about this seriously, we'll be dealing with something like 9/11."
In an effort to prevent those attacks before they become even likelier, the federal government is considering a number of bills. In fact, Congress this week is examining as many as six pieces of legislation that aim to balance the technical infrastructure with the privacy of residents and corporations.
Many believe the bill that is most likely to pass is the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, which was introduced by Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. The bill, which passed the House of Representatives in December, has sponsors from both sides of the aisle.
CISPA includes incentives for companies that control the country's infrastructure, including the finance and energy sectors. The companies would receive tax breaks if they share information about attacks.
Another bill, which is sponsored by Senator Joseph Lieberman, would mandate information sharing. President Barack Obama supports that bill and has said he would veto CISPA. However, some legislators wholly disagree on the bills. Some say they are too lenient, and some say they are too stringent.
"All the bills on the Hill are insufficient," McConnell told CNN. "We say we don't want to infringe on privacy rights or burden industry in any way, so the result is we don't do anything."
Another dynamic to these proposed bills comes from hackers themselves, namely the collective Anonymous, which called for May Day protests of CISPA. The group wants to coordinate protests with the Occupy Wall Street movement and others who oppose the bill. Anonymous is calling for physical protests of locations owned by the targets, including AT&T, Wal-Mart, CVS, Chase Bank and Visa.
"We call upon people to refrain from shopping, walk out of class, take the day off of work and other creative forms of resistance disrupting the status quo," organizers said in an April 26 e-mail, according to Bloomberg.