Government officials join security summit

Silicon Valley execs are slated to meet with top bureaucrats to hammer out ways that the private sector can work with government to enhance national security and avoid creating regulations.

Robert Lemos Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Robert Lemos
covers viruses, worms and other security threats.
Robert Lemos
3 min read
Silicon Valley executives are slated to meet on Wednesday with top bureaucrats from the Department of Homeland Security to hammer out ways that the private sector can work with government to enhance national security and avoid creating regulations.

The meeting--dubbed the National Cyber Security Summit--will bring together top executives at security and technology companies with policy-makers. Corporate leaders, eager to dodge legislative bullets, are expected to announce several new task forces and initiatives aimed at making information security a boardroom issue.

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"From financial services and energy to telecommunications and health care--our modern platforms of commerce and physical security depend on a robust and safe network environment," said a statement from Bill Conner, CEO of security device maker Entrust and co-chairman of the new Corporate Governance Task Force. "This environment does not presently exist."

The summit brings the Department of Homeland Security to the table with four major business organizations: The Business Software Alliance, the Information Technology Association of America, TechNet and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The gathering comes nine months after the Bush administration unveiled its plan to secure the Internet through cooperation instead of regulation. It also comes just in time to stiffen opposition to a bill that would require companies to reveal the results of a security audit in their financial reports.

While many have criticized the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace as a largely toothless policy document that avoids establishing baseline security standards for the industry, the Bush administration has pursued laws that could sacrifice individual citizens' rights in favor of security.

The meeting, which will be held in the middle of Silicon Valley at the Santa Clara Marriott, will try to convince government officials that security-savvy organizations can teach industry executives to consider information security at the boardroom level.

"It is through corporate governance guidelines and promotion of good 'cyberhygiene' among Internet users that we will be able to build a stronger and safer online community," said a statement from Art Coviello, CEO of security software maker RSA Security.

arrow SonicWall's CEO shares his view on The National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace
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The meeting will establish at least three task forces, including the Corporate Governance Task Force, the CEO Cyber Security Task Force, and the Technical Standards and Common Criteria Task Force. The CEO Cyber Security Task Force is expected to unveil a 75-question security check for chief executive officers to bring to their top information managers in order to gauge their company's security, several task force members told CNET News.com.

Amit Yoran, the director of the DHS's National Cyber Security Division and a speaker at Wednesday's summit, told CNET News.com that he believes the private sector can secure themselves.

"I have also been very encouraged by the willingness of the private sector to engage and assist and participate in the work that needs to be accomplished," he said. "So have we achieved the desired level of security? The answer is no. But are we making progress down that road? My belief is that we are."