Obama Administration Partners With Industry in the War Against Cyber Threats, Hackers

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By Glynn Wilson

The Obama administration is partnering with industry in the war against cyber threats and hackers, according to an address on Thursday by Robert S. Mueller, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to security professionals in San Francisco.

The growing threat includes denial of service attacks, network intrusions and state-sponsored hackers bent on compromising U.S. national security, he said, so the agency continues to strengthen its partnerships with other government agencies and private industry to “take the fight to the criminals.”

Good, because I’m tired of hackers and spammers trying to shut down my our news Website. I hope this administration will take a hard look at political operatives like Karl Rove, who are paying hackers to try to shut down independent journalists who speak truth to power.

“Network intrusions pose urgent threats to our national security and to our economy,” Mueller said. “If we are to confront these threats successfully, we must adopt a unified approach” that promotes partnerships and intelligence sharing — in the same way the U.S. responded to terrorism after the 9/11 attacks.

The FBI learned after 9/11 that “our mission was to use our skills and resources to identify terrorist threats and to find ways of disrupting those threats,” Mueller said. “This has been the mindset at the heart of every terrorism investigation since then, and it must be true of every case in the cyber arena as well.”

Partnerships that ensure the seamless flow of intelligence are critical in the fight against cyber crime, he said. Within government, the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force, which comprises 19 separate agencies, serves as a focal point for cyber threat information. But private industry — a major victim of cyber intrusions — must also be “an essential partner,” he said.

He talked about successful initiatives such as the National Cyber Forensics and Training Alliance, “a model for collaboration between private industry and law enforcement.” The Pittsburgh-based organization includes more than 80 industry partners from financial services, telecommunications, retail and manufacturing which work with federal and international partners to provide “real-time threat intelligence.”

He also mentioned the Enduring Security Framework, a group that includes leaders from the private sector and the federal government who analyze current—and potential—threats related to denial of service attacks, malware and emerging software and hardware vulnerabilities.

The Domestic Security Alliance Council includes chief security officers from more than 200 companies, representing every critical infrastructure and business sector. InfraGard, an alliance between the FBI and industry, has grown from a single chapter in 1996 to 88 chapters today with nearly 55,000 members nation wide.

Just last week, the FBI held the first session of the National Cyber Executive Institute, a three-day seminar to train leading industry executives on cyber threat awareness and information sharing.

“As noteworthy as these outreach programs may be, we must do more,” Mueller said. “We must build on these initiatives to expand the channels of information sharing and collaboration.”

For two decades, corporate cyber security has focused principally on reducing vulnerabilities.

“These are worthwhile efforts, but they cannot fully eliminate our vulnerabilities,” Mueller said. “We must identify and deter the persons behind those computer keyboards. Once we identify them—be they state actors, organized criminal groups or 18-year-old hackers, we must devise a response that is effective, not just against that specific attack, but for all similar illegal activity.”

We need to abandon the belief that better defenses alone will be sufficient, Mueller said. “Instead of just building better defenses, we must build better relationships.”

© 2013, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.

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