STANFORD, Calif.—President Obama's visit here Feb. 13 at the White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection was a high-visibility indicator that the federal government has made cyber-security a national security and public safety issue—and one in which private enterprise is sorely needed to provide innovation against an increasing number of cyber-attackers.
"We have a lot more work to do to solve these [data breach] problems, which are causing billions of dollars' worth of loss in our economy each year," Obama said. "We need all of us to work together to achieve what none of us can achieve alone. And it's hard. Some of these issues have defied solutions for years."
Before a capacity audience of Silicon Valley executives, invited guests and members of the media, the president signed and enacted an executive order for this back-channel information-sharing cooperation to actually get moving in real time. The order asks organizations to invest in improving cyber-security defenses, become proactive in helping each other out when crises arise and not be shy about asking the federal government for assistance.
'Privacy, security, business interests mutually reinforce each other'
Ryan Gillis is vice president of Government Affairs and Policy at Palo Alto Networks and former director of Legislative Affairs and Cybersecurity Policy for the National Security Council, based at the White House. Gillis, who was at the Feb. 13 event, told eWEEK that "the way that privacy, security and business interests all interact and mutually reinforce each other—that's something that's been missing in the messaging around information sharing in the legislative debates over the last few years.
"Too often it's been pitted that privacy is at odds with security in business. Overwhelmingly, when you better protect your networks, better protecting me as a consumer and an individual, and as a company that's better protecting my customers, I have a better relationship because I'm not issuing data breach notifications to them that we've lost your Social Security number [to a hacker].
"Helping drive that there is overwhelming commonality among those three interests will be of tremendous benefit," Gillis said.
Matt Loeb, CEO of ISACA, a global industry association of 115,000 cyber-security, IT governance and assurance professionals, was a panelist at the event. He told eWEEK via email that "President Obama's address strongly reinforced the purpose of the summit. Collaboration between the private and public sectors, including the need for real-time information sharing, is critical to addressing the cyber-security challenges we face."
'Cyber-security is a matter of public safety'
"Protecting the privacy and civil liberties of the American people is critically important. However, cyber-security is a matter of public safety. Protecting privacy starts with good security. Substantially greater investments in technology and in the training of new cyber-security professionals is paramount," Loeb said.
"Cyber-security is everyone's business. Beyond the training of new cyber-security professionals, having more cyber-aware consumers can be of help in curbing today's cyber challenges. More significant public awareness campaigns are needed."