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President Obama on Cybersecurity

President Obama on Cybersecurity


The President:
We meet today at a transformational moment — a moment in history when our
interconnected world presents us, at once, with great
promise but also great peril. Now, over the past four months
my administration has taken decisive steps to seize the
promise and confront these perils. We’re working to recover from a
global recession while laying a new foundation for
lasting prosperity. We’re strengthening our armed
forces as they fight two wars, at the same time we’re renewing
American leadership to confront unconventional challenges,
from nuclear proliferation to terrorism, from climate
change to pandemic disease. And we’re bringing to government
— and to this White House — unprecedented transparency and
accountability and new ways for Americans to participate
in their democracy. But none of this progress
would be possible, and none of these 21st century
challenges can be fully met, without America’s digital
infrastructure — the backbone that underpins a prosperous
economy and a strong military and an open and
efficient government. Without that foundation
we can’t get the job done. It’s long been said that the
revolutions in communications and information technology have
given birth to a virtual world. But make no mistake: This world
— cyberspace — is a world that we depend on every single day. It’s our hardware
and our software, our desktops and laptops and
cell phones and Blackberries that have become woven into
every aspect of our lives. It’s the broadband networks
beneath us and the wireless signals around us, the local
networks in our schools and hospitals and businesses, and
the massive grids that power our nation. It’s the classified military and
intelligence networks that keep us safe, and the World Wide
Web that has made us more interconnected than at
any time in human history. So cyberspace is real. And so are the risks
that come with it. It’s the great irony of our
Information Age — the very technologies that empower us to
create and to build also empower those who would
disrupt and destroy. And this paradox — seen and
unseen — is something that we experience every day. It’s about the privacy and the
economic security of American families. We rely on the Internet to pay
our bills, to bank, to shop, to file our taxes. But we’ve had to learn a whole
new vocabulary just to stay ahead of the cyber criminals who
would do us harm — spyware and malware and spoofing and
phishing and botnets. Millions of Americans
have been victimized, their privacy violated,
their identities stolen, their lives upended, and
their wallets emptied. According to one survey, in the
past two years alone cyber crime has cost Americans
more than $8 billion. I know how it feels to have
privacy violated because it has happened to me and
the people around me. It’s no secret that my
presidential campaign harnessed the Internet and technology
to transform our politics. What isn’t widely known is that
during the general election hackers managed to penetrate
our computer systems. To all of you who
donated to our campaign, I want you to all rest assured,
our fundraising website was untouched. (laughter) So your confidential personal
and financial information was protected. But between August and October,
hackers gained access to emails and a range of campaign files,
from policy position papers to travel plans. And we worked closely with the
CIA — with the FBI and the Secret Service and hired
security consultants to restore the security of our systems. It was a powerful reminder:
in this Information Age, one of your greatest
strengths — in our case, our ability to communicate to a
wide range of supporters through the Internet — could also
be one of your greatest vulnerabilities. This is a matter, as well,
of America’s economic competitiveness. The small businesswoman
in St. Louis, the bond trader in the
New York Stock Exchange, the workers at a global
shipping company in Memphis, the young entrepreneur in
Silicon Valley — they all need the networks to make the next
payroll, the next trade, the next delivery, the
next great breakthrough. E-commerce alone last year
accounted for some $132 billion in retail sales. But every day we see waves of
cyber thieves trolling for sensitive information — the
disgruntled employee on the inside, the lone hacker
a thousand miles away, organized crime, the industrial
spy and, increasingly, foreign intelligence services. In one brazen act last year,
thieves used stolen credit card information to steal millions of
dollars from 130 ATM machines in 49 cities around the world —
and they did it in just 30 minutes. A single employee of an American
company was convicted of stealing intellectual property
reportedly worth $400 million. It’s been estimated that last
year alone cyber criminals stole intellectual property from
businesses worldwide worth up to $1 trillion. In short, America’s economic
prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cybersecurity. And this is also a matter of
public safety and national security. We count on computer networks
to deliver our oil and gas, our power and our water. We rely on them for public
transportation and air traffic control. Yet we know that cyber intruders
have probed our electrical grid and that in other countries
cyber attacks have plunged entire cities into darkness. Our technological advantage
is a key to America’s military dominance. But our defense and military
networks are under constant attack. Al Qaeda and other terrorist
groups have spoken of their desire to unleash a cyber attack
on our country — attacks that are harder to detect and
harder to defend against. Indeed, in today’s world, acts
of terror could come not only from a few extremists in suicide
vests but from a few key strokes on the computer — a
weapon of mass disruption. In one of the most serious cyber
incidents to date against our military networks, several
thousand computers were infected last year by malicious
software — malware. And while no sensitive
information was compromised, our troops and defense personnel
had to give up those external memory devices — thumb drives
— changing the way they used their computers every day. And last year we had a glimpse
of the future face of war. As Russian tanks
rolled into Georgia, cyber attacks crippled
Georgian government websites. The terrorists that sowed so
much death and destruction in Mumbai relied not only on guns
and grenades but also on GPS and phones using
voice-over-the-Internet. For all these reasons, it’s now
clear this cyber threat is one of the most serious economic and
national security challenges we face as a nation. It’s also clear that we’re not
as prepared as we should be, as a government or as a country. In recent years, some progress
has been made at the federal level. But just as we failed in the
past to invest in our physical infrastructure — our roads,
our bridges and rails — we’ve failed to invest in the security
of our digital infrastructure. No single official oversees
cybersecurity policy across the federal government, and
no single agency has the responsibility or authority to
match the scope and scale of the challenge. Indeed, when it comes
to cybersecurity, federal agencies have
overlapping missions and don’t coordinate and communicate
nearly as well as they should — with each other or with
the private sector. We saw this in the disorganized
response to Conficker, the Internet “worm” that in
recent months has infected millions of computers
around the world. This status quo is no longer
acceptable — not when there’s so much at stake. We can and we must do better. And that’s why shortly after
taking office I directed my National Security Council and
Homeland Security Council to conduct a top-to-bottom review
of the federal government’s efforts to defend our
information and communications infrastructure and to recommend
the best way to ensure that these networks are able to
secure our networks as well as our prosperity. Our review was open
and transparent. I want to acknowledge, Melissa
Hathaway, who is here, who is the Acting Senior
Director for Cyberspace on our National Security Council,
who led the review team, as well as the Center for
Strategic and International Studies bipartisan
Commission on Cybersecurity, and all who were part of
our 60-day review team. They listened to a
wide variety of groups, many of which are represented
here today and I want to thank for their input:
industry and academia, civil liberties and private
— privacy advocates. We listened to every level and
branch of government — from local to state to federal,
civilian, military, homeland as well
as intelligence, Congress and international
partners, as well. I consulted with my
national security teams, my homeland security teams,
and my economic advisors. Today I’m releasing a
report on our review, and can announce that my
administration will pursue a new comprehensive approach to
securing America’s digital infrastructure. This new approach
starts at the top, with this commitment
from me: From now on, our digital infrastructure —
the networks and computers we depend on every day — will be
treated as they should be: as a strategic national asset. Protecting this infrastructure
will be a national security priority. We will ensure that these
networks are secure, trustworthy and resilient. We will deter, prevent, detect,
and defend against attacks and recover quickly from any
disruptions or damage. To give these efforts the
high-level focus and attention they deserve — and
as part of the new, single National Security Staff
announced this week — I’m creating a new office here at
the White House that will be led by the Cybersecurity
Coordinator. Because of the critical
importance of this work, I will personally
select this official. I’ll depend on this official
in all matters relating to cybersecurity, and this official
will have my full support and regular access to me as we
confront these challenges. Today, I want to focus on the
important responsibilities this office will fulfill:
orchestrating and integrating all cybersecurity policies
for the government; working closely with the Office
of Management and Budget to ensure agency budgets reflect
those priorities; and, in the event of major
cyber incident or attack, coordinating our response. To ensure that federal cyber
policies enhance our security and our prosperity, my
Cybersecurity Coordinator will be a member of the National
Security Staff as well as the staff of my National
Economic Council. To ensure that policies keep
faith with our fundamental values, this office will also
include an official with a portfolio specifically dedicated
to safeguarding the privacy and civil liberties of
the American people. There’s much work to be done,
and the report we’re releasing today outlines a range of
actions that we will pursue in five key areas. First, working in partnership
with the communities represented here today, we will develop a
new comprehensive strategy to secure America’s information
and communications networks. To ensure a coordinated
approach across government, my Cybersecurity Coordinator
will work closely with my Chief Technology Officer,
Aneesh Chopra, and my Chief Information
Officer, Vivek Kundra. To ensure accountability
in federal agencies, cybersecurity will be designated
as one of my key management priorities. Clear milestones and
performances metrics will measure progress. And as we develop our strategy,
we will be open and transparent, which is why you’ll find today’s
report and a wealth of related information on our web
site, www.whitehouse.gov. Second, we will work with all
the key players — including state and local governments and
the private sector — to ensure an organized and unified
response to future cyber incidents. Given the enormous damage that
can be caused by even a single cyber attack, ad hoc
responses will not do. Nor is it sufficient to simply
strengthen our defenses after incidents or attacks occur. Just as we do for
natural disasters, we have to have plans and
resources in place beforehand — sharing information, issuing
warnings and ensuring a coordinated response. Third, we will strengthen the
public/private partnerships that are critical to this endeavor. The vast majority of our
critical information infrastructure in the United
States is owned and operated by the private sector. So let me be very clear: My
administration will not dictate security standards
for private companies. On the contrary, we will
collaborate with industry to find technology solutions that
ensure our security and promote prosperity. Fourth, we will continue to
invest in the cutting-edge research and development
necessary for the innovation and discovery we need to meet the
digital challenges of our time. And that’s why my administration
is making major investments in our information infrastructure:
laying broadband lines to every corner of America; building a
smart electric grid to deliver energy more efficiently;
pursuing a next generation of air traffic control systems;
and moving to electronic health records, with
privacy protections, to reduce costs and save lives. And finally, we will begin a
national campaign to promote cybersecurity awareness and
digital literacy from our boardrooms to our classrooms,
and to build a digital workforce for the 21st century. And that’s why we’re making a
new commitment to education in math and science, and historic
investments in science and research and development. Because it’s not enough for our
children and students to master today’s technologies — social
networking and emailing and texting and blogging — we need
them to pioneer the technologies that will allow us to work
effectively through these new media and allow us to
prosper in the future. So these are the
things we will do. Let me also be clear
about what we will not do. Our pursuit of cybersecurity
will not include — I repeat, will not include — monitoring
private sector networks or Internet traffic. We will preserve and protect
the personal privacy and civil liberties that we
cherish as Americans. Indeed, I remain firmly
committed to net neutrality so we can keep the Internet as it
should be — open and free. The task I have described
will not be easy. Some 1.5 billion people around
the world are already online, and more are logging
on every day. Groups and governments are
sharpening their cyber capabilities. Protecting our prosperity and
security in this globalized world is going to be a long,
difficult struggle demanding patience and persistence
over many years. But we need to remember:
We’re only at the beginning. The epochs of history are long
— the Agricultural Revolution; the Industrial Revolution. By comparison, our Information
Age is still in its infancy. We’re only at Web 2.0. Now our virtual
world is going viral. And we’ve only just begun to
explore the next generation of technologies that will transform
our lives in ways we can’t even begin to imagine. So a new world awaits — a world
of greater security and greater potential prosperity — if
we reach for it, if we lead. So long as I’m President
of the United States, we will do just that. And the United States — the
nation that invented the Internet, that launched an
information revolution, that transformed the world —
will do what we did in the 20th century and lead once
more in the 21st. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. (applause)

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