Tag Archives: Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a “Shared Mission”

In his speech, before a hall full of business and tech leaders, students and professors, the President again emphasized the importance of the government and private sector working together.

He pointed out, “So much of our computer networks and critical infrastructure are in the private sector, which means government cannot do this alone.  But the fact is that the private sector can’t do it alone either, because it’s government that often has the latest information on new threats.  There’s only one way to defend America from these cyberthreats, and that is through government and industry working together, sharing appropriate information as true partners.”

Clearly this is a president who recognizes the dangers and complexities of cybersecurity, and equally wants digital safety to be a cornerstone of his legacy.

As he said elsewhere in his speech, “…. it’s one of the great paradoxes of our time that the very technologies that empower us to do great good can also be used to undermine us and inflict great harm…  The same social media we use in government to advocate for democracy and human rights around the world can also be used by terrorists to spread hateful ideologies.” We are fortunate to have a president who “gets it”.

In his speech, the President outlined four basic principles for cybersecurity:

  • First, the shared mission, between private and public, mentioned above.
  • Second, both sides (public and private) need to focus on their individual strengths. As the President acknowledged, “it’s not appropriate or even possible for government to secure the computer networks of private businesses.” Likewise, private companies don’t have the wherewithal, bandwidth, or responsibility to alert other companies or industries to a cyberattack.
  • Third, cybersecurity needs to constantly evolve. As the President said, “We’ve got to be just as fast and flexible and nimble [as hackers] in constantly evolving our defenses.”
  • Fourth, and the most important, going about these protective measures in a way that protects the rights and privacy of American citizens. President Obama stressed, “When government and industry share information about cyberthreats, we’ve got to do so in a way that safeguards your personal information.”

(See a full transcript of the President’s speech here.)

The President followed his speech by signing an Executive Order that encourages and promotes the sharing of cybersecurity threat information within the private sector and between the private sector and federal government. As he stated, it will also “…encourage more companies and industries to set up organizations – hubs – so you can share information with each other.”

It’s no surprise that the President picked Stanford for his cybersecurity summit.

Besides being in the cradle of information technology and in the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford announced a major Cyber Initiative in November that will address, through an interdisciplinary (and campus-wide) focus, the “crucial and complex opportunities and challenges raised by cyber-technologies.”

As regards the President’s speech, I like the practical realization that the government and business must work together; but most of all I like the fact that the President recognizes that the privacy of the individual is paramount. As a security firm our mission is to protect your data, but beyond that, it is to make sure that you, and your privacy, and the privacy of your loved ones, is secure. As we move forward, we’ll keep our eye on these policies and initiatives with that in mind.

Will 2015 be the biggest yet for Cybersecurity?

President Obama’s recently announced comprehensive new cybersecurity proposal for the U.S., highlighted in his State of the Union address (you can see a full transcript of this address here), puts the issue of cybersecurity where it should be: front and center.

The high-profile cyber-attacks and hacks of the past year have drawn a mainstream spotlight to cybersecurity. As the President emphasized in his address: “No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids.”

What are my thoughts? I think this is a real, actionable step in the right direction to increase the war on cyber-attacks and protect consumers and businesses.

The new Presidential cybersecurity proposal, officially announced  on December 19 at  the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, aims to move to quicker and more active security breach and threat reporting.

Image courtesy of The Guardian

According to the White House announcement, the proposal would create a more proactive environment for companies and organizations in the private sector to share security breaches with the government. The proposal, for example, would criminalize the sale of stolen financial data, and mandate that companies notify consumers about data breaches, as well as protect companies from liability.

As stated by the White House, “Specifically, the proposal encourages the private sector to share appropriate cyber threat information with the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), which will then share it in as close to real-time as practicable with relevant federal agencies and with private sector-developed and operated Information.”

Information sharing provides a way to get a real-time response to these breaches. But it’s the old left-hand, right-hand problem.  Information sharing would speed up an organized response to a data breach or cyber-threat and allow a concerted response. But there remain legitimate concerns in many camps about the information shared.

This proposal seems to be well crafted in that it recognizes a general apprehension of handing over information to the government, a genuine concern (even an obsession) for many. The plan seeks to mollify privacy concerns by requiring participating companies to comply with a set of restrictions, such as removing “unnecessary personal information” and to protect personal information that has been shared.

A national standard in the United States for reporting breaches has been a long time coming. If you’re a company that has been hacked, your obligations are different in different states. If your information has been hacked, a company’s obligation to report it to you currently depends on the regulations of the state you reside in, which simply doesn’t make sense. If you’ve been hacked by someone from Russia, for example, does it matter whether you live in Connecticut or Texas? The problem is a global one, but a national plan is a great move.

The new cybersecurity proposal has critics and supporters lining up in debate.  And the prospect is real that this cybersecurity plan like previous proposals could become stalled in Congress.

“cybersecurity needs to be proactive in preventing and detecting cyber crime”.

We all need to focus on the idea that cybersecurity is not just reactive, but needs to be proactive – in preventing and detecting cyber crime. The President’s proposal is a step along that path.

I’m looking forward to a next step and results of the newly announced Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection at Stanford on February 13, 2015 which will convene a wide variety of groups for industry, private and public – to help shape public and private sector efforts to protect consumers and companies from growing network threats.

The good news is that momentum for cybersecurity is building. If we can get business, government, and the security industry in this country working from the same digital page, the benefits could be tremendous.

It’s a critical and very exciting time to be in digital security.

Mobile health IT security challenge: way bigger than HIPAA?

Wearable technology and other health-related devices were big at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this month. This recorded webinar explains why these and related technologies present big challenges for data privacy and security.

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