The White House is tackling cybersecurity with a new executive order aimed to keep America safe from cyber threats by improving information-sharing and collaborative actions between government agencies and the private sector.
"America must face the rapidly growing threat from cyber-attacks. We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and our economy," President Obama said in his State of the Union address Tuesday night.
"The national and economic security of the United States depends on the reliable functioning of the Nation's critical infrastructure in the face of such threats," the order reads. "It is the policy of the United States to enhance the security and resilience of the Nation's critical infrastructure and to maintain a cyber environment that encourages efficiency, innovation, and economic prosperity while promoting safety, security, business confidentiality, privacy, and civil liberties. We can achieve these goals through a partnership with the owners and operators of critical infrastructure to improve cybersecurity information sharing and collaboratively develop and implement risk-based standards.
The order is drawing mostly praise from industry watchers and some of the biggest names in communications.
“Security of cyberspace is a pressing national imperative, and today’s executive order takes some important steps toward achieving policy goals that will help protect our nation from harmful threats," said Walter B. McCormick Jr., president and CEO of USTelecom, the broadband trade association representing telecom service providers and suppliers. "The order will facilitate national cybersecurity policy goals by directing federal agencies to reduce duplicative and excessively burdensome cybersecurity requirements. We’re pleased that the order reaffirms the importance of public-private partnerships in assessing and combating threats, a strategy we believe is highly effective ..."
CenturyLink also released a statement in support of the White House's efforts and looks forward to collaborating with government on this issue.
“Since our network is one of the central assets of our business, we’ve invested heavily in robust cybersecurity protections and created a governance, risk and compliance framework that leverages voluntary public-private partnerships with the federal government," said Steve Davis, CenturyLink executive vice president for public policy and government relations. " ... CenturyLink is encouraged by the White House executive order's provisions to improve information sharing between government agencies and the private sector. A voluntary, flexible, balanced and collaborative partnership between government agencies and the private sector is essential to improving the nation's cybersecurity posture. We also encourage the president to work with Congress on bipartisan legislation that establishes a legal framework for information sharing and liability protections."
The U.S. is frequently the target of cybersecurity threats from China, Russia and other parts of the globe. Beyond the obvious concerns of espionage, many believe that the next major terrorist attack will be a cyber event that attacks America's infrastructure.
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