States May Tackle Cybersecurity Issues Without Feds

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By Adrianne Appel

Oct. 7 — States should take the lead in filling cybersecurity gaps in the absence of sweeping federal action, cybersecurity officials said at an Oct. 7 gathering of governors.

Richard Clarke, cybersecurity professional and former presidential adviser, said that states need to take action on cybersecurity issues instead of hoping that the U.S. will take action. Although President Barack Obama hasn't done much on cybersecurity, the blame lies on congress for the few recent cybersecurity initiatives, he said in Boston at a National Governors Association meeting on cybersecurity called “Meet the Threat: States Confront the Cyber Challenge”.

State infrastructures and businesses are vulnerable in the face of this inaction, Clarke said. “You have to step up and do what the federal government is not doing,” he said.

In the absence of federal action, companies should look to shore up their information technology systems to combat against cyberattacks. Corporate inaction may lead to potential litigation and regulatory enforcement action stemming from a consumer data breach.

State Cybersecurity Action

States may be better poised to tackle cybersecurity through regulatory action.

States may issue regulations similar to those recently proposed by New York which requires banks and financial institutions to meet certain cybersecurity standards, Clarke said. The regulations proposed Sept. 13 by the New York Department of Financial Services would require the businesses to have cybersecurity risk plans and to encrypt sensitive data (15 PVLR 1868, 9/19/16).

In addition to regulatory action, states should also aim to promote cybersecurity in the community through best practices and outreach programs.

Denis Goulet, chief information officer of New Hampshire, told Bloomberg BNA Oct. 7 that states “have a responsibility to evangelize” cybersecurity within our states. New Hampshire already has cybersecurity standards in place for new software and systems, Goulet said. The challenge is what to do about vulnerabilities in existing systems, he said.

There can easily be 100,000 vulnerabilities in one, complicated program, he said. “To remediate them is no small task,” Goulet said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Adrianne Appel in Boston at aappel@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Donald G. Aplin at daplin@bna.com ; Daniel R. Stoller at dstoller@bna.com

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