No one is denying that the U.S. is currently facing major cyberthreats, but according to the head of the National Security Agency, many don’t realize the obstacles in the country’s way to protect against cybercrime. In a speech at Stanford University in early November, NSA director and commander of U.S. cyber command admiral Mike Rogers noted that the intelligence community has been tasked with overcoming multiple hurdles, including responding the concerns of data privacy and the inability to lure skilled security professionals to work for the government with high salaries.
A main topic of discussion for Rogers was cybersecurity legislation, specifically the cybersecurity information sharing act. The CISA would enable security, telecom and Internet providers to more effectively monitor their network activity for the appearance of malicious software and other threats and share that event data with members of the intelligence community via the Department of Homeland Security. The bill would require the DHS to send threat information along to federal authorities in real time, preventing it from removing any personal data from the material as it currently does, which is causing concerns for privacy advocates according to Mark Jaycox, a legislative analyst with the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation.
According to Rogers, the threat of consumer privacy being compromised through a public-private partnership is low. He said the two entities need to access to mutually beneficial information and be able to share it freely so organizations can prepare for possible threats.
“What I ought to be able to provide is actionable information that you can use that gives you insights,” Rogers said.
Department of Justice also pushing for improved cybersecurity information sharing
Rogers’ talk came less than a week after officials from the FBI urged America’s private sector to cooperate more with the government to defend against cyberattacks. According to the agency, high-profile data breaches of major corporations like Home Depot and J.P. Morgan Chase have increased the need for the public and private sectors to work together to share threat information in a faster and more effective manner. In an effort to foster such a partnership, the FBI has provided the private sector with close to 40 classified, sector-specific threat briefings in the past year alone, according to John Carlin, head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
Senators from both sides of the aisle seem eager to pass the CISA, and action to push the bill through the Senate is likely to pick up now that this year’s elections are over. According to Forbes contributor Gregory McNeal, multiple members of the Senate have expressed optimism toward the idea that some form of cybersecurity legislation will be passed before Congress adjourns for the year. Senators Dianne Fienstein and Saxby Chambliss have both been vocal proponents of the bill, expressing their belief that American companies need legal protections that make sharing threat information with government officials and other organization safer and easier. The CISA has already been passed by the house and the bill was approved by the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this year.