Cybersecurity

Justice, FTC offer new encouragement for information sharing

Placeholder Image for Article Template

Under an updated cybersecurity information-sharing policy, commercial entities that share cyberthreat data will not raise eyebrows in the antirust divisions of the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission, so long as the shared data does not stray into competitive information.

In a joint policy statement issued April 10, the two agencies reinforced a 14-year-old policy aimed at facilitating more cyberthreat coordination among companies. In 2000, Justice sent a letter to the Electric Power Research Institute saying it had no intention of blocking the organization's proposal to exchange certain cybersecurity information among its members, including real-time cyberthreat and attack information.

Officials at Justice and the FTC acknowledged that some companies are already sharing cyberthreat information, but others have voiced concerns about violating antitrust laws. "We all recognize the critical importance of protecting our nation's networks," said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer during an April 10 briefing. "And we also know that this can be done in legitimate and lawful ways. This is an antitrust no-brainer: Companies who engage in properly designed cyberthreat information sharing will not run afoul of the antitrust laws."

As long as the shared information does not contain data such as recent, current or future prices; cost data; output levels; or information that might abet price-fixing or other competitive coordination among competitors, companies can share it, Baer said.

"If there ever was any uncertainty out there about the kind of information that can be shared, this policy statement should make it abundantly clear that with the proper safeguards in place, cyberthreat information sharing can occur without antitrust risk," he said.

The policy statement notes that cyberthreat information is typically more technical in nature than competitively sensitive information. "For example, one of the most common methods of identifying malware (e.g., a virus, worm, etc.) is through signature detection," the policy states. "A threat signature is like a digital fingerprint; it is a unique string of bits or data that uniquely identifies a specific threat. Signature-based detection involves searching for known patterns of data."

The policy also notes that information such as knowing the IP address from which a denial-of-service attack originates or the particular port it targets could help others block similar illegitimate traffic.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a staff writer at FCW.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group