President Shines a Spotlight on Cybersecurity

As part of his recent State of the Union address, President Barrack Obama stressed the importance of cybersecurity and signed an executive order for the creation of stronger ties between government agencies and private corporations when it comes to protecting data against attacks. It’s a much-needed step in the right direction, considering the lack of progress in Congress on such matters, and it brings increased focus on an important aspect of our national economy… protecting corporate data.
Pravin Kothari, CipherCloud Founder and CEO, commented on the new executive order for several news stories ( which highlight the President’s plans for sharing security information, and how he has assigned the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to lead development of voluntary information sharing.
While the executive order and NIST is primarily focusing on recommendations, and promising sharing “sanitized” data which may or may not be useful in protecting private networks against attacks, the main benefit of President Obama’s efforts is that it shines a spotlight on the importance of cybersecurity. Although several bills were introduced in Congress over the past year, each failed to be approved, and by signing the order, “just having some form of cyber legislation is in theory a win for individuals’ right to privacy,” Pravin Kothari said on (
Security vulnerabilities are also hampering innovation efforts in big infrastructure projects, as mentioned in the Wall Street Journal last week (, Without a framework for sharing information and government prescriptions on best practices, public infrastructure system managers are unwilling to expose their networks to possible attack. As part of that same article, Patrick Meyer, the CIO of Novati Technologies Inc., also called for the government prescribed use of encryption technology to keep data from prying eyes. As anti-virus and anti-malware systems have traditionally only been successful at protecting against known threats, clearly the use of encryption to protect data in addition to traditional security software needs to be part an overarching strategy.
The president stressed the importance of protecting essential infrastructure systems such as water and power plants, which may seem to be far removed from corporate systems. But the truth is that the correlation between government, infrastructure and corporate systems is pretty close.
The executive order is by no means a replacement for more comprehensive cybersecurity laws, which will require a well thought-out approach to data security, privacy and data latency and a whole host of other issues.
What’s needed next is a greater sense of urgency when dealing with the realities of cybersecurity and combating cybercriminals. While the president’s executive order is an excellent start, it would benefit from proposing timelines for adoption of its recommendations, or penalties for failing to protect consumer and public data properly, or incentives to thoroughly share information on attacks… all things that an executive order cannot actually implement. However, it is still a wakeup call to American businesses that the government, and especially the Executive Branch, is going to be paying more attention to these issues in the future.
With the number hacker attacks growing and government regulations seeming more likely, cybersecurity is a widespread issue. It touches every single area of government and the private sector. And as companies are increasingly compelled to report cybersecurity violations, it behooves them to take every step possible to secure their valuable data, especially in a cloud computing environment.

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