Telco ISPs, Tech Cos. Team Up for Cybersecurity

USTelecom and the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) have formed the Council to Secure the Digital Economy (CSDE).

Partners in the council, whose goal is to combat cyber threats through collaboration, include Akamai, AT&T, CenturyLink, Ericsson, IBM, Intel, NTT, Oracle, Samsung, SAP, Telefonica and Verizon.

“As our hyper-interconnected world becomes increasingly dependent upon the internet and communications infrastructure, threats to the global digital ecosystem have become more frequent, sophisticated and consequential,” said USTelecom President Jonathan Spalter. “The CSDE reflects a shared commitment across the leadership of the global information and communications technology sector to pursue security mitigation as intensely as digital innovation.”

The council will comprise senior internet and communications execs and experts charged with setting priorities and initiatives in partnership with the public sector.

Administration officials last week called for more cross-industry collaboration on identifying and responding to threats. Those include Russian attempts to influence the election, high-profile hacks, and the potential for Internet of Things (IoT) vulnerabilities across a range of tech products, a category that is becoming broader with every net-connected thermostat and toaster.

Related: White House Says Cyber Attacks Cost Big Bucks

“I applaud ITI, USTelecom and their members for leaning forward and addressing the challenges of a more secure digital economy by building upon strategic initiatives from a more integrated and collaborative ICT approach,” said Chris Krebs of the Department of Homeland Security. “This is exactly the type of industry collaboration needed to help frame the important issues through a shared digital economy lens.”

The White House Friday (Feb. 16) released a Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) report that found that the economic costs of "malicious cyber activity" in 2016 were between $57 billion and $109 billion dollars.

Related: U.S. Unprepared to Combat Weaponized Social Media

At about the same time, the Justice Department was announcing indictments against Russian individuals and companies that used social media to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

The report concluded that better data and more cooperation "across firms and between the public and private sectors" are required to protect against such attacks. That was also one of the takeaways from top intelligence officials at the Hill Hearing.

No cable ISPs were listed in the coalition. NCTA-The Internet & Television Association had no comment on the new council or whether any of its members had been asked to join.

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.