Magazine article National Defense

Johnson: DHS Must Build Trust with Private Sector to Counter Cyber-Attacks

Magazine article National Defense

Johnson: DHS Must Build Trust with Private Sector to Counter Cyber-Attacks

Article excerpt

As cyber-attacks increase, the Department of Homeland Security must begin building trust with the private sector if it hopes to quell more widespread and sophisticated intrusions, said the department's new secretary.

"DHS must continue efforts to address the growing cyberthreat, illustrated by the real, pervasive and ongoing series of attacks on things like stores, banks, email services, power substations and the public that depends on them," said Jeh Johnson at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

"Here, the key to the government's efforts is to build trust with the private sector."

Pervasive cyber-attacks are now a reality, said Johnson. Last year, President Barack Obama issued an executive order that aimed to improve cybersecurity within critical infrastructure. The order called for, in part, the development of incentives to encourage the private sector to share information about attacks with the government.

The executive order came on the heels of the failure of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011. CISPA, which failed to pass Congress in 2012, was designed to promote information sharing of cyber-attacks among the private sector, but critics said it could erode civil liberties.

Jane Harman, president and CEO of the Wilson Center, said one of the criticisms of CISPA was that DHS was not "well managed" enough as a department to take the reins.

"The big objection two years ago was it's not a well managed department - I'm not saying this is fair, but this was the objection - and we're wary of cooperating with [them]," said Harman.

Johnson said he did not disagree with Harman and that leadership is needed to increase trust between the department and industry.

"I think that the key ... to answer the dilemma ... is visible leadership. Good leadership, but also visible leadership," said Johnson. …

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