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Obama rolls out national action plan for cyber security

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

US President Barack Obama has rolled out a USD 19 billion "national action plan" on cyber security as his intelligence chief warned of new security threats due to growing technologies that can open up doors to hackers.

"We're going to reform the way the government manages and responds to cyber threats. We'll invest in cybersecurity education," Obama said as he proposed a USD 19 billion for cyber security.

Obama said his Administration is determined to recruit the best talent in America in IT and in cybersecurity.

He also announced creation of the first-ever Federal Chief Information Security Officer who will oversee these activities across agencies and across the federal government, as well as make sure that the federal government is interacting more effectively with the private sector, which obviously contains a huge amount of vital and critical infrastructure, and has to be protected.

US intelligence chief James Clapper said that wider adoption of connected devices and "new systems that rely on artificial intelligence can open up doors to hackers.

Clapper said "smart" Internet of Things (IoT) devices for autonomous vehicles, household appliances and systems such as electric power grids create new vulnerabilities.

The Administration will work throughout this process to make sure that security also means privacy.

"So with the help of companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Visa, we're going to empower Americans to be able to help themselves and make sure that they are safe online with an extra layer of security, like a fingerprint or a code sent to your cellphone," Obama said.

Obama also announced to establish a new high-level commission on cybersecurity to gather the best ideas from outside of government to focus on long-term solutions.

"Some of these issues are ones that we can solve relatively quickly. But in area where technology is constantly evolving, we've got to make sure that we're setting up a long-term plan anticipating where IT is going and anticipating where the cybersecurity threats are going to be," he said.

Earlier in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Obama said the federal government has been repeatedly targeted by cyber criminals, including the intrusion last year into the Office of Personnel Management in which millions of federal employees' personal information was stolen.

"Hackers in China and Russia are going after US defence contractors. North Korea's cyberattack on Sony in 2014 destroyed data and disabled thousands of computers," he said.

"With more than 100 million Americans' personal data compromised in recent years-including credit-card information and medical records-it isn't surprising that nine out of 10 Americans say they feel like they've lost control of their personal information," Obama said.

"These cyberthreats are among the most urgent dangers to America's economic and national security. That's why, over the past seven years, we have boosted cybersecurity in government- including integrating and quickly sharing intelligence about cyberthreats-so we can act on threats even faster," Obama wrote.

First Published: Wed, February 10 2016. 14:42 IST