WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. officials on Tuesday urged corporate America to work with the government to fend off cyber threats and said intelligence and law enforcement authorities are working to get useful information to companies about potential attacks.
The FBI has presented more than three dozen classified, sector-specific threat briefings to companies in the past year, John Carlin, head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, said at a conference hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“We also share sensitive information with you so you can defend against attacks in real time, and engage in disruption efforts,” Carlin told the conference.
He said Justice Department officials have had “extensive” one-on-one meetings with in-house legal teams to try to address any legal hurdles to cooperation.
Top American companies, from retailer Target Corp to bank JPMorgan Chase & Co, have experienced major security breaches in recent months, adding urgency to experts’ concerns that U.S. authorities and the private sector should share threat information sooner and better.
Some technology companies have also scaled back their cooperation with the U.S. government in the aftermath of revelations from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about mass surveillance programs.
On Tuesday, NSA chief Michael Rogers sought to tame concerns that consumers’ privacy could be compromised through the cooperation and described cybersecurity efforts as the “ultimate team sport.” He said the government needed information from companies about the attacks they encounter, but that the government also needed to share information about potential malware so companies can prepare.
“What I ought to be able to provide is actionable information that you can use that gives you insights,” Rogers said.
The Senate Intelligence Committee in July approved a bill to encourage companies to exchange information with the government on hacking attempts and cybersecurity threats.
On Tuesday the authors of the bill, Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, and Saxby Chambliss, a Georgia Republican, said support from groups like the Chamber of Commerce could help get the bill passed by the full Senate by the end of the year.
Reporting by Aruna Viswanatha; Editing by Dan Grebler