February 13, 2013 / 2:16 AM / 5 years ago

Obama signs executive order on defense against cyber attacks

WASHINGTON, Feb 12 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday signed an executive order seeking better protection of the country’s critical industries and infrastructure from cyber attacks.

The long-expected executive order, which will be announced during Obama’s State of the Union speech, follows last year’s failed attempt by the U.S. Congress to pass a cyber defense law.

The order, which does not have the same force as a law, directs the secretary of homeland security to “increase the volume, timeliness and quality” of information on cyber threats shared between the government and the private sector.

To aid the process, the order will ease the process of sharing classified cyber threat information with eligible companies that provide or support critical infrastructure. It calls for expedited security clearance for some employees of such companies as well.

Obama’s executive action also orders the creation of a set of standards to reduce cybersecurity risks as well as a voluntary program, including incentives, for companies to adopt them.

Cyber attacks in recent months targeted a succession of major U.S. companies and government agencies, continuing to raise the stakes in the debate about how the government and the private sector can best protect sensitive information.

Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by Eric Beech

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