What could the Obama administration do to help your company with cybersecurity?

Summary:Ronald Reagan famously said, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"

Ronald Reagan famously said, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"

The Obama administration is reportedly looking at the economic component of cybersecurity.

In a meeting on July 12, White House Cyber-Security Coordinator Howard Schmidt met with Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano explored the economic side of online security.

The premise is simple. If the economics favor the attacker (and the ROI for a cyberattack can be enormous), what can the U.S. Government do to level the playing field?

Of course, the solution isn't nearly as simple. It's possible to run a botnet, for example, using a single cheap PC. But it's virtually impossible to defend against a determined DDoS attack without both a lot of effort and a lot of expense.

It appears the administration is looking at how to economically encourage companies to invest more into online defense.

But the obvious question is what does that mean? Does that mean tax incentives for buying or spending on cybersecurity? What sort of impact will that really have?

It is an interesting question. Many companies avoid investing much in cybersecurity because their management doesn't perceive the expense as contributing to the bottom line. As most readers here on ZDNet know, recovering from a cyberattack can be quite costly and it is important to have good defensive measures in place.

If the government implements tax incentives, is this a nod to commercial providers, and where does that leave open source projects?

So, dear readers, I have a small challenge for you. You guys are experts on the topic of IT operations. If the government were to provide help or incentives to defend against cyberattacks, what sort of help or incentives would actually be useful and improve security?

Go ahead and TalkBack below. This is an interesting and important topic, and so it merits considered responses. Let's make this a constructive discussion.

Topics: Government, Malware, Open Source, Security

About

In addition to hosting the ZDNet Government and ZDNet DIY-IT blogs, CBS Interactive's Distinguished Lecturer David Gewirtz is an author, U.S. policy advisor and computer scientist. He is featured in The History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets, is one of America's foremost cyber-security experts, and is a top expert on savi... Full Bio

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