Tighter cybersecurity, innovation on Commerce wish list

Commerce Department seeks ideas for improving the nexus between computer security and innovation

The Commerce Department wants suggestions on how to bolster two cornerstones of the information economy: cybersecurity and innovation.

Commerce will publish a notice of inquiry in the July 28 Federal Register that will seek comments on how to improve commercial cybersecurity while sustaining innovation. The comments will be analyzed, and the department plans to issue a report that will contribute to the Obama administration’s policies toward cybersecurity and the Internet economy.

A primary purpose of the report will be to identify and evaluate cybersecurity problems facing companies and consumers that aren’t in critical infrastructure or key resources sectors, Commerce said. The department said it also hopes to learn how it can improve its execution of core cybersecurity responsibilities.

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Commerce Secretary Gary Locke established the department's Internet Policy Task Force in April. Specifically, Commerce wants comments on:

  • How data should be gathered and analyzed to measure the financial impact of cybersecurity incidents.
  • Whether there adequate incentives for businesses to provide information about security breaches, data security losses, and cybersecurity spending.
  • At what level of granularity should data be collected and analyzed.
  • Which educational plans are succeeding or failing.
  • What additional role, if any, should the government play in cybersecurity education.
  • Whether there is adequate awareness of information sharing programs.
  • How can the fedaral government best support improvement of identity management controls.
  • If U.S. businesses face unfair competition when competing against non-U.S. nationally controlled companies.
  • How the government could better encourage the use of internationally accepted cybersecurity standards and practices outside of the United States.

The Obama administration has tried to focus on the commercial aspects of cybersecurity. The Commerce Department hosted a cybersecurity conference in Washington July 27 on that topic.

During the conference White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt said it’s important to ensure that public/private partnerships help the government do its job and industry to be more productive. He said there was a need to raise awareness amongst business leaders, make sure incentives and metrics are effective, and enhance research and development consistent with the needs of the private sector.

“We are indeed diverse communities across the government and the private sector, but together we can bring those resources to actually make some substantive changes,” Schmidt said.


About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.


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