In a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Thursday, July 19, President Barack Obama called for increased cooperation between government and private industry when it comes to cybersecurity and urged Congress to pass the Cybersecurity Act of 2012.
If caught off-guard, the president warned, a successful computer attack on the nation’s infrastructure could have devastating consequences. Obama cited recent examples of minor hacker attacks, one against a Texas water plant and another against natural-gas companies.
“In a future conflict, an adversary unable to match our military supremacy on the battlefield might seek to exploit our computer vulnerabilities here at home,” he wrote.
“We need to make it easier for the government to share threat information so critical-infrastructure companies are better prepared. We need to make it easier for these companies — with reasonable liability protection — to share data and information with government when they're attacked. And we need to make it easier for government, if asked, to help these companies prevent and recover from attacks,” he wrote.
But sharing information is not enough, he wrote. Overall security needs to be improved. “Nuclear power plants must have fences and defenses to thwart a terrorist attack. Water treatment plants must test their water regularly for contaminants. Airplanes must have secure cockpit doors. We all understand the need for these kinds of physical security measures. It would be the height of irresponsibility to leave a digital backdoor wide open to our cyber adversaries.”
While calling for improved security, the President wrote that he would veto any bill that “lacks strong privacy and civil-liberties protections.”
[Read President Obama’s full op-ed on The Wall Street Journal website.]
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