Justice Department official calls for broader public-private cybersecurity efforts

In both the private and public sectors, few IT topics receive as much attention as the need for improved cybersecurity. Threats are proliferating and evolving, and virtually every organization is a target. The more valuable and sensitive the information that a given firm handles, the greater the risk that it will be the victim of a cyberattack.

Speaking at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's third annual Cybersecurity Summit, John Carlin, assistant attorney general for national security with the Department of Justice, argued that businesses and government agencies should do more to unite their efforts to fight cyberthreats.

Growing threats
As Carlin pointed out, today's cybercriminals and hackers present a major threat to countless U.S. businesses. The Department of Justice and other agencies are dedicated to thwarting these threats, but there are limits to what the government can do independently.

"We know that we will never achieve impenetrable defenses. That we will remain vulnerable," Carlin acknowledged. "But you can take steps to mitigate the risk, protect yourselves and your companies and, ultimately, the cybersecurity of the United States."

Preventative measures
Carlin identified a number of strategies that his department emphasizes in order to mitigate the risk of data breaches and other cyberattacks. Key among these was the sharing of vital information.

"The information we share with you may enhance your ability to deter future intrusions," said Carlin.

The assistant attorney general noted that with more information in hand, organizations are better able to ward off cyberattacks in real time, and to take the best possible steps to disrupt future hacking efforts.

Federal considerations
While Carlin's speech was aimed specifically at leaders of American businesses, his warnings are equally applicable to federal agency heads and directors. Government departments are at least as likely to be targeted as major companies, but they face even greater challenges when it comes to preventing these attacks from gaining access to sensitive information. After all, private companies typically have significantly more leeway when it comes to their IT budgets.

This makes information sharing among government agencies critical. Only by pooling resources, including strategies and data, can federal departments hope to maximize their cybersecurity defenses. To this end, excellent communication channels are imperative, as are robust policies. Government agencies may need to consult with third-party experts to develop the most effective, efficient techniques for supporting one another.