WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Northrop Grumman Corp’s chief executive is making a rare request: more regulation from Washington.
Wes Bush said the threat from cyber attacks has become so intense and so wide that it requires a federal solution.
“This is something you often don’t hear from industry, but I think you probably need more of a regulatory perspective brought to this,” Bush told the Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit in Washington on Wednesday.
Northrop Grumman is the Pentagon’s No. 1 supplier of remotely piloted vehicles.
Bush’s call comes as business groups and Republicans slam the Obama administration’s new healthcare, financial and environmental regulations as major impediments to job growth and economic recovery.
President Barack Obama has tried to subdue concerns.
He has asked federal agencies to comb their books for unneeded regulations, and last week he put a stop to new rules that would limit smog pollution, unexpectedly reversing course on a key policy measure after businesses said it would kill jobs and cost them billions of dollars.
But some Republicans, including Senator Ron Johnson and presidential candidate Rick Perry, have called for a moratorium on regulations that could harm business.
Northrop’s Bush, however, said more regulation is needed so that critical infrastructure industries can protect themselves from cyber attacks.
Obama in May pressed Congress to pass strong cybersecurity measures, including safeguards for the nation’s financial system and electric power grid, but several bills have limped along without much progress.
“No single company can solve this problem on its own,” Bush said. “It requires a level of expertise and investment that really is the reason we have a federal government.”
Bush said legislation is needed, while acknowledging it will be difficult for businesses to give up a level of privacy and be required to make security investments.
To be sure, Northrop also stands to benefit with its offering of cybersecurity products.
Bush said the cyber risk justifies the government involvement.
“I think the potential for damage is high enough,” Bush said.
Reporting by Karey Wutkowski, editing by Matthew Lewis and Bernard Orr