President Signs Executive Order On Cybersharing

President Obama Friday signed an executive order that encourages the sharing of cyber threat information within industry and with the government, which both of those agree is key to protecting information online.

The White House also continues to push for cyber sharing legislation as well.

"Rapid information sharing is an essential element of effective cybersecurity because it ensures that U.S. companies work together to respond to threats, rather than operating alone," the White House said. It has been pushing for legislation to do that, but as with other issues in the President's last term, he is trying to goose the process via executive actions.

But the President is also looking for legislation to boost info sharing and collaboration. "While we applaud Congress for successfully passing several pieces of important cybersecurity legislation last year, we still need Congress to pass key cybersecurity legislation," the White House said.

That bill would allow for sharing and establish a national data breach reporting regime. "The Administration’s updated proposal helps businesses and consumers by simplifying and standardizing the existing patchwork of 46 state laws (plus the District of Columbia and several territories) that contain these requirements into one federal statute," The White House said.

House Homeland Security chairman Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) has already set aside Feb. 25 for a hearing on the President's cybersecurity information sharing proposal.

“The recent cyber attack on Anthem was yet another stark reminder of the persistent threats we face," said McCaul. "Now, more than ever, Congress must take aggressive action to remove legal barriers to improve private entities’ ability to share information to combat these attacks."

It was a busy day for cybersecurity Friday (Feb. 13) as the White House convened stakeholders -- tech companies, privacy advocates, consumers advocates, law enforcement, educators and others -- to talk about collaborating and partnering on cybersecurity and financial protections, the venue for announcing the new order.

“We applaud the White House’s commitment to information sharing initiatives that will help our country ward off damaging cyberattacks,” said Tim Pawlenty, president of the Financial Services Roundtable. “We hope this will push Congress to swiftly enact cyber threat information sharing legislation that provides strong liability protections so companies can share critical threats with each other and the government as they work to protect customers from the next major cyberattack.”

The summit follows various moves by the White House to address cyberthreats, including an Executive Order on developing a framework for critical Infrastructure cybersecurity protections. Among the companies that committed to that framework Friday were Intel, Apple, Bank of America, AIG, QVC, Walgreens and Kaiser Permanente.

Intel also announced the launch of True Key, which it describes as "a new consumer application by Intel Security that eliminates the hassle of managing passwords and enables consumers to use unique and more complex passwords – without having to remember them – so they can better protect their information and identity."

“TechNet commends President Obama and the administration for shining a spotlight on the growing cybersecurity threat to the country’s critical infrastructure and computer networks," Linda Moore, president and CEO, said in a statement. “By traveling to Silicon Valley to host today’s summit and by collaborating with a range of innovation economy leaders, the president received important feedback on the nature of the cyber threat and the tools available to mitigate the risk. TechNet members, including Symantec, Apple, Visa and Fortinet, were also cited by the President as being at the forefront of building and integrating some of the security protocols and standards outlined today.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.