Obama Signs Order to Improve Security of US Business Networks
President Barack Obama signed a White House cyber-security executive order, which is the most comprehensive plan to confront electronic attacks on computer networks in the US. It was the result of the alarming number of industrial espionage in the past year that analysts blame on China.
Senior administration officials described the order as a down payment on future legislation. It calls for the development of voluntary standards to protect the computer systems and networks that run the nation’s vital infrastructure.
The order also directs US defense and intelligence agencies to share classified threat information with those companies that considered important to the US economy. These include companies from the power, banking and transportation industries.
The executive order has been in the drawing board for months and is the result of difficult negotiations with private sector companies that were against any increased government regulation. The plan is symbolic and has several questions left unanswered.
According to the new executive order, the National Institute of Standards and Technology has a year to create a package of voluntary standards and procedures that will help companies address various cyber-security risks. The package must have flexible, performance-based and cost effective steps that vital infrastructure companies can identify the risks to their systems and networks and the ways they manage the risks.
Officials should also come up with incentives the government can implement to encourage companies to meet the standards. Pentagon will have four months to recommend whether the standards should be considered when it makes contracting decisions.
The White House has to work with the existing laws when it came out with the executive order. The order calls for agencies to review their present regulations to find out if the rules have addressed cyber-security risks.
For the past three years, Congress has been struggling to reach an agreement on cyber-security legislation. President Obama made the order as a stopgap measure with the hope that the lawmakers pass a bill this year.