U.S. President wants to protect American innovation from Cyber Threats
More than any other nation, America is defined by the spirit of innovation, and our dominance in the digital world gives us a competitive advantage in the global economy. However, our advantage is threatened by foreign governments, criminals and lone actors who are targeting our computer networks, stealing trade secrets from American companies and violating the privacy of the American people
How this protection should work, President Barack Obama explains:
“Networks that control critical infrastructure, like power grids and financial systems, are being probed for vulnerabilities. The Federal Government has been repeatedly targeted by cyber criminals, including the intrusion last year into the Office of Personnel Management in which millions of Federal employees’ personal information was stolen. Hackers in China and Russia are going after U.S. defence contractors.
North Korea’s cyberattack on Sony in 2014 destroyed data and disabled thousands of computers. With more than 100 million Americans’ personal data compromised in recent years—including credit-card information and medical records—it isn’t surprising that nine out of 10 Americans say they feel like they’ve lost control of their personal information.
These cyber threats are among the most urgent dangers to America’s economic and national security. That’s why, over the past seven years, we have boosted cybersecurity in government—including integrating and quickly sharing intelligence about cyber threats—so we can act on threats even faster. We are sharing more information to help companies defend themselves. We have worked to strengthen protections for consumers and students, guard the safety of children online, and uphold privacy and civil liberties. Thanks to bipartisan support in Congress, I signed landmark legislation in December that will help bolster cooperation between government and industry.
Still, with the nation’s cyber adversaries getting more sophisticated every day—developing new botnets, spyware, malware and ransomware—we have to be even more nimble and resilient, and stay ahead of these threats. The federal government—which is obligated to protect the information provided to it by the American people—has a unique responsibility to lead. The fact is, we still do not have in place all the tools we need, including ones many businesses rely on every day.
That is why, today, I am announcing our new Cybersecurity National Action Plan, backed by my proposal to increase federal cybersecurity funding by more than a third, to over USD 19 billion. This plan will address both short-term and long-term threats, with the goal of providing every American a basic level of online security.
First, I am proposing a USD 3 billion fund to kick-start an overhaul of Federal computer systems. It is no secret that too often government IT is like an Atari game in an Xbox world. The Social Security Administration uses systems and code from the 1960s. No successful business could operate this way. Going forward, we will require agencies to increase protections for their most valued information and make it easier for them to update their networks. And we are creating a new federal position, Chief Information Security Officer—a position most major companies have already adopted—to drive these changes across government.
Second, we are stepping up our efforts to build a corps of cyber professionals across government to push best practices at every level. We’ll do more—including offering scholarships and forgiving student loans—to recruit the best talent from Silicon Valley and across the private sector. We will even let them wear jeans to the office. I want this generation of innovators to know that if they really want to have an impact, they can help change how their government interacts with and serves the American people in the 21st century.
Third, we are strengthening our partnerships with the private sector to deter, detect and disrupt threats, including to the nation’s critical infrastructure. Yesterday, we inaugurated a new cybersecurity Centre of Excellence, which will bring together industry and government experts to research and develop new cutting-edge cyber technologies. We are also establishing a national testing lab, where companies can test their systems’ security under simulated attacks. Because every enterprise is potentially vulnerable, the Small Business Administration is offering cybersecurity training to over 1.4 million small businesses and their workers.
Fourth, we are doing more to help empower Americans to protect themselves online. In partnership with industry, we are launching a new national awareness campaign to raise awareness of cyber threats and encourage more Americans to move beyond passwords—adding an extra layer of security like a fingerprint or codes sent to your cell phone. At the same time, leading technology firms like Google, Facebook, Dropbox and Microsoft are making it easier for millions of users to secure their online accounts, while credit-card and payment companies such as Visa, MasterCard and PayPal are making transactions more secure.
Finally, because government does not have all the answers to these complex challenges, we are establishing a bipartisan Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity to focus on long-term solutions. Working together, my administration and congressional leaders will appoint top business, strategic and technology thinkers from outside government to provide specific recommendations for bolstering cybersecurity awareness and protections across the public and private sectors over the next decade.
As fast as our connected world is evolving, it is worth remembering that we are still in the early days of this challenge. The first Web page came online in 1990. We are only in the third decade of the Internet Age, and I believe we have only just scratched the surface of what is possible—if we protect the innovation and privacy that we cherish as Americans.
These cyber threats are a national-security risk few of my predecessors faced, but they will be ones my successors, regardless of party, must address. As long as I am President, protecting America’s digital infrastructure is going to remain a top national-security priority. We would not resolve all these challenges over the coming year, but we are laying a strong foundation for the future. By taking these steps together, I am confident we can unleash the full potential of American innovation, and ensure our prosperity and security online for the generations to come.”
TextileFuture is asking you, does your own government and your company provide everything to protect the enterprise from cyber threats? Have you heard of a similar initiative elsewhere?