Cybersecurity: The lobbyist's dream?

Summary:Is President Obama's view on cybersecurity producing the desired effect?

Congress and the Obama Administration have been vehement in what they want to see in terms of cybersecurity defense, but cybercrime appears to be producing growth in unexpected areas.

According to Bloomberg, recent attempts to bring light to the issue of cybersecurity have resulted in exploding growth in political lobbying. By the end of 2012, 513 filings by consultants and companies were made to try and press Congress on the issue, which is up 85 percent from 2011 according to Senate filings.

As the threat of cybercrime becomes more firmly entrenched in Western society, more firms have taken steps to lobby for additional protection. This year, 12 companies -- including Google's Motorola Mobility, Symantec and Ericsson -- have all filed new registrations with the Senate, but this is likely to drag government and industry into the ring over official regulation and business practices.

Speaking to the publication, provost at Wake Forest University Rogan Kersh commented:

"Cybersecurity is a lobbyist's dream. This is going to be a titanic clash, and when that kind of industry power is aligned against each other, lobbyists start sharpening their knives and forks."

The interest displayed by companies and organizations in influencing future cybersecurity policy reflects the current, fragile climate -- an almost blank slate that various organizations would like to shape themselves. Institutions with valuable information -- such as investors or banks -- are often a target, and vital infrastructure is also under scrutiny. Although no catastrophic attacks against core services have taken place in the United States yet, there is no reason to believe that this isn't written into the country's future.

However, protection has to be balanced with what firms and organizations are willing to invest to protect their networks. In a recent meeting between President Obama and a number of leaders from the technology, finance and energy industries -- including AT&T, Exxon Mobil and JPMorgan Chase & Co -- CEOs asked for a " light touch " from the government and flexible future policy.

Two key themes that have come up within this discussion; the wishes of businesses to be protected from customer-led privacy lawsuits for sharing information, and the prevention of liability claims if organizations fail to act on security-related warnings.

In addition, even though the U.S. government now considers cybercrime more of a threat than terrorism , Internet service providers and a number of large telecommunications firms have also argued against an FCC recommendation that particular security measures should be made compulsory for businesses.

China has also come to the front within the discussion. A recent report from security firm Mandiant which suggested a single building -- overseen by the country's military -- is the origin of an " overwhelming " number of cyberattacks pushed the rumors of Chinese hackers back into the spotlight, and now Obama has stated that cybersecurity is a "key" topic in future political talks with the country. However, it's not all one-sided, as North Korea has recently blamed its southern counterpart and the U.S. for attacks against the country's systems.

All of these examples led to an interesting debate over the future of cybersecurity worldwide. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat who sits on the Senate Commerce and Intelligence committees, told the publication:

"Companies used to think they could ignore this issue or sweep it under the rug. There's more and more recognition, industry by industry, that the sheer volume of threats can't be hidden anymore."

Topics: Security, Government : US, Malware

About

Charlie Osborne, a medical anthropologist who studied at the University of Kent, UK, is a journalist, freelance photographer and former teacher. She has spent years travelling and working across Europe and the Middle East as a teacher, and has been involved in the running of businesses ranging from media and events to B2B sales. Charli... Full Bio

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