Obama Finally Takes Charge on Cyber Security with Executive Order

It took getting bit in public, but the President has finally taken a firm stance on online privacy protection with a brand new initiative.

Only weeks ago cyber hackers attacked the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and a bevy of massive corporate behemoths. Taking over their systems was a bit like taking candy from a candy factory (China manufacturers much of the security infrastructure that’s used to keep the bad guys out – so there are lots of back doors when they want to dip into the cookie jar). 

In the past, certain pieces of proposed anti-piracy legislation like SOPA and CISPA have come under fire for being too restrictive and allowing private entities too much access to personal data. President Obama has expressed disapproval for those acts in the past, and in his State of the Union address Tuesday, he finally announced a cyber security executive order aimed at securing America’s infrastructure. Thank the gods of security that he is finally taking charge.

“We know hackers steal people’s identities and infiltrate private e-mails. We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets,” Obama said. He also urged Congress to pass legislation to enforce security measures, saying it must be a bipartisan effort.  

The order calls for greater dissemination of cyber threat info, consultation of privacy experts, and an identification of which sectors are at greatest risk of potential data security breaches. Another key section asserts that privacy and civil liberties will be taken into consideration by the agencies involved. 

In doing this, the President has publicly acknowledged the dangers that threaten anyone who uses the internet, and the steps we need to take to fight against them. The cat is out of the bag (officially), though it escaped years ago for those of us who watch this sort of thing. As usual, it took getting stung where it counts (our news agencies) before anyone was willing to act on the threat.

Hopefully, this will come as a wake-up call to all those still in the dark about the realities of digital identity theft. It’s a real threat that poses risks not just on an individual level, but on a global scale as well.

Businesses should read the executive order online and then talk to a data security and online privacy expert to learn more about how they can safeguard their interests. Staying up-to-date on the latest regulations is crucial to maintaining robust security – after all, you can’t play the game if you don’t know the rules. 

John Sileo is an online privacy expert and keynote speaker on cyber security and online privacy. His clients included the Department of Defense, Pfizer, and Homeland Security. See his recent work on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business.