Obama administration unveils cybersecurity guidelines

WASHINGTON—The Obama administration on Wednesday released its final version of its "cybersecurity framework," a best practices manual for banking, defense, utilities and other industries to help protect themselves against attacks by hackers.

The framework, which sets voluntary guidelines for critical industries, comes after President Obama signed an executive order last year that called on the Commerce Department to develop the guidelines.

The president issued the executive order only after failing to persuade Congress to pass legislation requiring companies to better defend their networks.

Obama had pushed for creating incentives to entice companies to get on board with adopting the best practices standards, but the administration was unable to get regulatory approval in time to include incentives in Tuesday's report.

"While I believe today's Framework marks a turning point, it's clear that much more work needs to be done to enhance our cybersecurity," Obama said in a statement. "America's economic prosperity, national security, and our individual liberties depend on our commitment to securing cyberspace and maintaining an open, interoperable, secure, and reliable Internet. Our critical infrastructure continues to be at risk from threats in cyberspace, and our economy is harmed by the theft of our intellectual property.

Obama, who first made the call to create the guidelines in his 2013 State of the Union address, specifically called on the government to tap private industry and come up with a plan to improve information sharing with the private sector, raise the level of cybersecurity across critical U.S. infrastructure by encouraging widely accepted standards and best practices, all while keeping civil liberty concerns in mind.

The framework is built around five broad categories -- identify, protect, detect, respond and recover -- that companies should consider in cybersecurity planning.

Even without financial incentives, such as tax breaks, the White House believes that companies will embrace the framework.

"There's an enlightened self-interest here that we are counting on," said a senior administration official, who was not authorized to comment.


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