Obama’s Cybersecurity Summit to feature big names, anti-hacker order

Reuters / Larry Downing
President Obama will give the keynote address at the White House Cybersecurity Summit at Stanford University on Friday, where he’ll also sign an executive order intended to increase threat sharing between the government and private sector.

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The all-day summit will bring together government agency heads and CEOs of banking, security and tech companies as they look to boost cybersecurity efforts – including how to protect consumers and companies from hackers.

Topics at the summit will include "increasing public-private partnerships and cybersecurity information sharing, creating and promoting improved cybersecurity practices and technologies, and improving adoption and use of more secure payment technologies," the White House said in a statement.

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Obama will also sign an executive order aimed at encouraging companies to share more information about cybersecurity threats with the government and each other. It was devised in response to the hack against Sony Entertainment and will create new, private-sector-led “information sharing and analysis organizations (ISAOs),” where companies share cyber threat data with each other and the Department of Homeland Security.

"We believe that by clearly defining what makes for a good ISAO, that will make tying liability protection to sector organizations easier and more accessible to the public and to privacy and civil liberties advocates," said Michael Daniel, Obama's cyber coordinator, as quoted by Reuters.

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Aside from improving information sharing, summit organizers are looking to establish a national standard for companies to report data breaches.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is planning to attend the summit, as are the chief executives of companies such as Intel, PayPal, Bank of America, AIG. Numerous administration officials will also be there, including Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

The top executives of Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook won’t attend the summit, but are sending their top information security executives instead. Those companies, along with Apple, are still handling the blowback caused by revelations regarding the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program, exposed by former contractor Edward Snowden. Tech companies are still confronting customer complaints over secure products and the extent of data protections.

Both Apple and Google introduced smartphone that encrypt data by default, despite law enforcement complaints over the resulting difficulties in carrying out legitimate investigations.