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Can Gov’t Be A Source of Threat Intelligence For Business?

Private sector companies are increasingly asking the federal government for cyber threat intelligence as they seek to shore up their defenses against growing online threats, a White House cyber official told lawmakers on Wednesday.

Growing cybersecurity threats have prompted more companies to seek cyber threat intelligence from the federal government.

Various companies noted that while they already have adequate funds, resources, and technical support for combating cyberattacks, government-based intelligence would enable them to strengthen their systems, according to Robert Knake, budget and policy head in the Office of the National Cyber Director. “What we’ve heard from every private sector company we talked to is to make sure that we can provide the one thing that private companies can’t do on their own, which is intelligence. Only the U.S. government can collect intelligence, and only the U.S. government can provide it back. So that’s a major focus of our efforts,” said Knake at a House Homeland Security subcommittee hearing. Meanwhile, Cybersecurity and Information Security Agency Executive Assistant Director Eric Goldstein emphasized at the hearing the importance of collaboration between the public and private sectors in cyber risk management.

The White House official was testifying before the cybersecurity subcommittee on steps the government can take to strengthen its partnership with the private sector. Eric Goldstein, executive assistant director for cybersecurity at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and Tina Won Sherman, director of homeland security and justice at the Government Accountability Office, also testified.

Knake explained that many companies, especially large ones, already have the resources, funds and technical support to defend their networks against cyberattacks, but they have repeatedly emphasized that intelligence from the government would help bolster their systems.

“These are very well-resourced organizations for cybersecurity,” Knake said.

The officials also emphasized how crucial it is for the government to keep collaborating, share information and provide guidance to the private sector. Goldstein said that CISA, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security, recognizes “that no individual organization — public or private — has the visibility or capability alone to manage cybersecurity risks.”

“Our core goal is ensuring that every American organization has the information and tools needed to protect their enterprises and customers against cyber risks,” he added.

The hearing follows another House hearing from Tuesday in which cyber executives told lawmakers that the government should be less of a regulator and more of a partner for critical sectors in their quest to prevent and counter cyberattacks.

The executives said although they welcome some regulations, the focus should be on collaboration and information sharing between the government and the private sector.

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