Menu
Cyberthreat sharing must include strong privacy protections, advocates say

Cyberthreat sharing must include strong privacy protections, advocates say

Lawmakers will push for information-sharing legislation, but some groups want them to address past privacy concerns

U.S. lawmakers should put strict privacy controls into planned legislation to encourage companies to share cyberthreat information with government agencies and each other, some advocates said.

Members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said Wednesday they plan to work on a cyberthreat information-sharing bill in the coming months. But representatives from Microsoft and the Center for Democracy and Technology told lawmakers they can avoid the controversies of other recent bills by requiring companies and government agencies to strip out personally identifiable information before sending cyberthreat information to other organizations.

Cyberthreat information-sharing bills introduced in Congress in recent years, including 2014's Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) and 2013's Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), failed to pass after questions about how much customer information they would allow companies to share with government agencies, including intelligence services.

The committee will move forward on cybersecurity legislation with the goals of enhancing the U.S. economy and protecting national security, committee Chairman Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, said during a hearing. "If we concentrate on that, recognizing there are different viewpoints on this, I think we have a far better chance of succeeding" with legislation, he said.

While past efforts to pass legislation have failed, the push to pass an information-sharing bill received a boost this month from President Barack Obama. The Obama administration resurrected its May 2011 proposal to give private organizations immunity from lawsuits when they share information about cyberattacks with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other agencies.

Information sharing will often involve some customer data, said Gregory Nojeim, senior counsel at CDT. As Congress moves toward new legislation that would protect companies that share cyberthreat information from lawsuits, it should limit what government agencies can do with the information, by forbidding them from using it for law enforcement or national security investigations not related to cybersecurity, he said.

"The flow of this information to the government triggers concerns that cybersecurity information sharing could evolve into a surveillance program," Nojeim said.

Past information-sharing legislation, including CISA and CISPA, would have allowed the widespread sharing of customer information and "trumped" all U.S. privacy laws, he said.

When government agencies seek personally identifiable information from companies involved in information-sharing programs, they should have to go through standard court processes, such as getting a warrant, added Scott Charney, corporate vice president in Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing Group.

Users of Internet services want assurances that the information they give to those companies is protected, Charney said. "Privacy is a fundamental value and must be protected," he said.

Other witnesses at the hearing downplayed privacy concerns related to information-sharing. Companies would be sharing "cryptographic hashes or pieces of software code," said Marc Gordon, CIO at American Express. "There's nothing associated with customers in any shape or form."

As long as companies only share attack indicators, "we don't see that there's any real issue at the end of the day," Gordon said.

But in some cases, companies would share IP addresses in an effort to pinpoint the source of attacks, Charney said. Courts should oversee the sharing of IP addresses and customer account information, he said. "There reaches a point where the government wants more [information], and we require legal processes to be followed, so that our customers know we're protecting their privacy, and not just giving the data away voluntarily," he said.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Ron JohnsonlegislationMarc GordonBarack ObamaExploits / vulnerabilitiesprivacyamerican expressU.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs CommitteeScott CharneysecurityGregory NojeimMicrosoftdata breachCenter for Democracy and Technologygovernment

Featured

Slideshows

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

​As the channel changes and industry voices deepen, the need for clarity and insight heightens. Market misconceptions talk of an “under pressure” distribution space, with competitors in that fateful “race for relevance” across New Zealand. Amidst the cliched assumptions however, distribution is once again showing its strength, as a force to be listened to, rather than questioned. Traditionally, the role was born out of a need for vendors and resellers to find one another, acting as a bridge between the testing lab and the marketplace. Yet despite new technologies and business approaches shaking the channel to its very core, distributors remain tied to the epicentre - providing the voice of reason amidst a seismic industry shift. In looking across both sides of the vendor and partner fences, the middle concept of the three-tier chain remains centrally placed to understand the metrics of two differing worlds, as the continual pulse checkers of the local channel. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable, in association with Dicker Data and rhipe, examined the pivotal role of distribution in understanding the health of the channel, educating from the epicentre as the market transforms at a rapid rate.

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel
Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

After Hours made a welcome return to the channel social calendar last night, with a bumper crowd of distributors, vendors and resellers descending on The Jefferson in Auckland to kickstart 2017. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017
Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow Electronics introduced Tenable Network Security to local resellers in Sydney last week, officially launching the distributor's latest security partnership across Australia and New Zealand. Representing the first direct distribution agreement locally for Tenable specifically, the deal sees Arrow deliver security solutions directly to mid-market and enterprise channel partners on both sides of the Tasman.

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel
Show Comments