Cybersecurity Order Signed by President Obama – Now What?

It’s been studied for months to issue an Executive Order for Cybersecurity on information sharing of cybersecurity threats between companies. It’s been talked about for years. It’s a pressing issue that with high-level attacks going on targeting critical infrastructures, that information sharing between companies is important. President Barack Obama agrees that this should take effect.

One core problem in information sharing is that data on new threats to security and other cybercrime attacks need to be shared when it happens rather than in the middle of an attack. Usually, some companies will provide some info to other companies, but put it on low priority where the other company (on the receiving end) receive it too late to do anything about it.

As we reported back in late December, 46 US House of Representatives Republicans joined in a letter (PDF) to urge President Barack Obama not to issue the executive order on cybersecurity. The letter of urgency, led by Representatives Marsha Blackburn (Tennessee) and Steve Scalist (Louisiana) was aimed at helping to reduce the amount of government involvement in cyberwar, in hopes not to stir rages with hackers and other pests.

However, if companies don’t band together to help defeat the cybersecurity problems scattering aggressively on the Internet, then every normal internet user will be doing some information and credit card sharing, which could cause money to be robbed out of the pockets of millions of people everyday. But, with this Executive Order, at least companies can share information about cybersecurity threats and prevent people from being robbed, and clean up the situations of data and identity theft.

As we reported late last month, critical infrastructure vulnerabilities are getting out of hand.

“The cyber war has been under way in the private sector for the past year,” says Israel Martinez, a board member of the U.S. National Cyber Security Council, a nonprofit group composed of federal government and private sector executives.

“We’re finding espionage, advanced persistent threats (APTs), and other malware sitting in networks, often for more than a year before it’s ever detected,” Martinez says.

With this information paired with the Department of Defense wanting more cybersecurity workers, the state of National Security will improve along with cybersecurity.

According to Wired Magazine Online, The order, which runs eight pages (.pdf), directs the Attorney General’s office, the office of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and the Director of National Intelligence to issue instructions to their agencies that would “ensure the timely production of unclassified reports of cyberthreats to the U.S. homeland that identify a specific targeted entity” to Congress and also develop a program for providing “classified cyber threat and technical information from the Government to eligible critical infrastructure companies or commercial service providers that offer security services to critical infrastructure,” according to the document.

With the government wanting to expand operations to handle critical infrastructure vulnerabilities implementing more workers, to expediting security clearances, they have this to say in the Order:

“It is the policy of the United States Government to increase the volume, timeliness, and quality of cyber threat information shared with U.S. private sector entities so that these entities may better protect and defend themselves against cyber threats.”

Some worry about this order, and hope this is the right thing to do.

“I am concerned that the order could open the door to increased regulations that would stifle innovation, burden businesses, and fail to keep pace with evolving cyberthreats,” Republican Representative Michael McCaul, of Texas, said in a statement.

“The president’s executive order rightly focuses on cybersecurity solutions that don’t negatively impact civil liberties,” ACLU legislative counsel Michelle Richardson said in a statement. “Greasing the wheels of information sharing from the government to the private sector is a privacy-neutral way to distribute critical cyber information.”

We’ll see the state of the internet security landscape as time goes on, as this is just the beginning. In efforts to see this thing through, congress will be keeping a close eye on this issue, and perhaps start adding other measures to support it.

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