There are also indications that the government may be willing to provide to the private sector some sensitive data gathered by intelligence agencies on a limited basis, sources said. This kind of openness and spirit of cooperation is an about-face for the government, which in recent years has been criticized by security experts for being slow and stingy in providing data. As a result of that criticism, the mandate for change has come down from the highest levels of the Bush administration. "As we confront the crucial issue of cyber-security, its important that our efforts follow a similar path," Tom Ridge, secretary of the DHS, said in a speech at the summit. "One where we share information, work together and close any gaps and weaknesses that terrorists would otherwise seek to exploit. Before 9/11, each separate sector of our nations critical infrastructure had its own mechanism for sharing information, but there was no coordination between these industrial sectors.""I think were all ready to contribute now. Were willing to share as much as we can. Were all wide open on the government plan," said Ron Knode, director of global security solutions at Computer Sciences Corp., based in El Segundo, Calif. "But its not fair for the government to say Gimme, gimme, gimme and not reflect anything back. There are still some cross-purposes in government that make us anxious about sharing. We need to be unencumbered without some legal liability you have to think about."
But the change of heart by the government comes with a catch: Technology companies must do their part as well or face new federal cyber-security regulations. Private-sector security experts and CIOs overwhelmingly oppose formal regulations and say they are interested in cooperating with the government as much as possible.