SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Leading technology industry groups used the National Cyber Security Summit being held here to introduce Wednesday new tools for assessing information while deflecting criticism that industry initiatives so far have failed to fortify cyberspace.
The Information Technology Association of America announced plans for a national security readiness survey of enterprises to be conducted in conjunction with the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. The results of the semi-annual assessment will help measure the nations state of information security and pinpoint areas needed for improvement, said the trade groups president, Harris Miller.
Meanwhile, TechNet, a group representing tech company CEOs and senior executives, unveiled its Corporate Information Security Evaluation. The evaluation, previewed on Wednesday and set for a final release in January, is a series of about 80 questions for CEOs to help them determine the security preparedness of their businesses.
“Whether CEOs know it or not, they have a strong fiduciary responsibility around information security,” said Art Coviello, president and CEO of RSA Security, during a press conference at the security summit.
Both efforts come as the industry and Department of Homeland Security try to jumpstart action on the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, an administration plan released almost a year ago. After the resignation of the White House cyber-security czar in January, the Homeland Security Department in June formed the National Cyber Security Division. Its director, Amit Yoran, didnt come on board until October.
The IT industry has been loathe to accept any legislation or government regulations that require reporting of security breaches or the use of security technology or methods, and the administration has largely agreed with it. Reporting of security breaches has remained voluntary.
Pressed on why the industry wouldnt accept reporting requirements, ITAAs Miller said that businesses already are heavily focused on information security and pointed to the new survey and CEO tools as the beginning of broader steps that the industry will be taking.
Outside the ballrooms of the Santa Clara Marriott, where Wednesdays summit was held, security experts were skeptical that the industry groups latest actions will do much to comprehensively address cyber-security.
While government regulation may not be the answer, the industry needs to agree to and adhere to standards for delivering secure IT products, something the trade groups have been resisting, said Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute. He dismissed new surveys as an effective way to address security.
“The only beneficiaries are the companies selling surveys or that are selling security,” he said. “You dont do [security] because someone runs a survey but because you feel a key pain.”
For its part, the federal government should lead by example and add security requirements across its procurement of technology, Paller said.
Homeland security officials repeatedly stressed that their cyber-security effort is a partnership with the private sector, but they also expressed a willingness to be more aggressive if the tech industry doesnt make progress.
The National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace avoided recommending any specific legislation or regulations, Yoran said, but the Homeland Security Department has not ruled out legislation or regulation—especially if industry efforts prove to be incomplete.
Robert Liscouski, the Department of Homeland Securitys assistant secretary for infrastructure protection, took a tougher stance after repeated questions from reporters about the lack of security requirements or regulations.
“We are not going to let anyone who operates in this space dodge from their responsibility,” he said. “We want to see results. … Regulation is not off the table, but at the end of the day thats not where we want to be.”
Discuss This in the eWEEK Forum