The Grill: Rep. William Keating wants cross-sector data sharing

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This cybersecurity-focused lawmaker wants cross-sector data sharing for faster response to cybersecurity threats.

The year started with national attention once again focused on major security breaches, this time at Target and Neiman Marcus. Such news is putting more pressure on Congress to take action, with some analysts speculating that cybersecurity could become a hot-button topic in this year's midterm elections and in the 2016 presidential campaign. Rep. William Keating (D-Mass.), who sits on the House Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies Subcommittee, spoke late last year at the Boston-based Advanced Cyber Security Center's annual conference. Here, he talks about what needs to be done now to protect the U.S.

What do you see as the biggest cybersecurity threat? It's the attack on the infrastructure, our economic infrastructure, because the effects it would have on our country would be enormous. An attack on a financial institution, a big financial institution, for even a limited period of several hours could threaten the economic viability of that firm and would have a domino effect on all the other financial institutions, not just in the U.S., but in the world and on the stock market. You'd see that threat materialize in a form we've never seen before, and that would spill over to our national security. That kind of attack being successful would be devastating.

What's the federal government's role in cybersecurity? I think the Department of Homeland Security has to be more involved; we have to realize this is both a national and international problem. I just came back from the Munich Security Conference, where the EU and other countries participate in security issues. The EU has a system with mandated requirements of information sharing and technology sharing among companies and government. In the U.S., those efforts have not been successful.

So one thing we can do now is move in the same direction that the Advanced Cyber Security Center is moving: a bottom-up approach where major companies and entities share cross-sector threat information, and they do it because they have agreements protecting privacy. Those of us in Congress have to try to reconcile the European approach with the U.S. approach.

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