It would appear that the issue of cyber security has finally been brought front and center into the national spotlight. Recently, President Obama traveled to Stanford University to participate and deliver remarks at the ‘White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection’ held at that prestigious institution. Speaking to over 1,500 corporate executives, researchers, students and faculty, the President applauded the work that was being initiated at the summit, noted its importance in protecting the security of our national data.
He emphasized the dangers that hackers are creating by their activities, making special note of recent breaches of security at Target, Sony, Anthem, Home Depot and various government agencies (including the White House). The President said that combating those with malicious intent cannot be done alone. “This has to be a shared mission. Government cannot do this alone. But the private sector cannot do it alone, either.” Every sector with a vested interest in cyber security—businesses, government agencies and individuals need to join hands and cooperate in sharing information that will lead to a strong defense against hackers.
Recently the President has been advancing legislation that would make it easier for businesses to share data on breaches with the government, decrease the amount of time that a breached company has to notify customers on lost data to 30 days, and lower barriers for sharing of information between government agencies. Earlier this week his administration created the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center that will assist those with a vested interest in cyber security to share information collected by various government agencies.
Sharing information remains a sticking point with many of the big name Silicon Valley firms. Notable by their absence from the summit were invited guests Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, Larry Page from Google, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Their absence indicates the continuing friction between the government and technology enterprises with regard to sharing information, government spying, and privacy issues. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple was at the summit but has gone on record as saying “People have trusted us with their most personal and private information, and we must give them the best technology we can to secure it. Sacrificing our right to privacy can have dire consequences”.
The security of our digital data is one our greatest concerns and most seem willing to cooperate to achieve some semblance of security…yet the ongoing issue of privacy continues to haunt us and make us wary. Benjamin Franklin once said something to the effect that “Those who give up a bit of freedom for a bit of security deserve neither”…words of wisdom that we should continue to ponder as we move headlong into uncharted cyber territory.