President Obama beefs up cyber defences with executive order

News 13 Feb, 2013

US President uses State of the Union address to announce new cybersecurity order.

US president Barack Obama has signed an executive order that will allow more information to be shared with private companies about the threat posed to national security by cyber attacks.

The order will allow the US government to share information on cyber threats with companies outside the defence industry, specifically infrastructure providers, for the first time.
America must face the rapidly growing threat from cyber-attacks.
The text of the order states “it is the policy of the United States government to increase the volume, timeliness, and quality of cyber threat information shared with US private sector entities so that these entities may better protect and defend themselves against cyber threats.

“Within 120 days of the date of this order, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence shall each issue instructions ... to ensure the timely production of unclassified reports of cyber threats to the US homeland that identify a specific targeted entity.”

The signing of the executive order was announced during the annual State of the Union address and follows two previous aborted attempts in Congress to pass information-sharing legislation.

“America must also face the rapidly growing threat from cyber-attacks. We know hackers steal people's identities and infiltrate private e-mail. We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets," said Obama.

"Now our enemies are also seeking the ability to sabotage our power grid, our financial institutions, and our air traffic control systems. We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and our economy,” he said.

“Now, Congress must act as well, by passing legislation to give our government a greater capacity to secure our networks and deter attacks,” he added.