At Cybersecurity Summit, Industry Groups Offer Solutions to Protect Data

Following the lead of President Obama and prominent CEOs including Apple's Tim Cook, financial and retail groups alike were ready to take some big steps at last week's White House cybersecurity summit.

Following the lead of President Obama and prominent CEOs, including Apple’s Tim Cook, financial and retail groups alike were ready to take some big steps at last week’s White House cybersecurity summit.

The Obama administration is getting serious about national security in cyberspace, and a number of industry groups are right there with it.

Friday’s White House cybersecurity summit at Stanford University brought together CEOs from several industries to talk about how they can keep corporate and consumer data safe. The goal: to encourage the public and private sectors to work together.

“As a country, one of our greatest resources are the young people, the digitally fearless. But it also means that the problem of how we secure this digital world will only increase,” President Barack Obama said, according to NBC News.

Obama signed an executive order Friday that promotes the creation of Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations that would work as go-betweens to allow the public and private sectors to communicate on security issues. The order was widely praised by the association community, with groups such as the National Retail Federation and the American Hotel & Lodging Association welcoming the president’s cybersecurity initiatives.

“The executive order is very much in line with what we are already doing to identify, classify, and disseminate intelligence on actual and potential cyberthreats to more than 150 of the best-known retail brands and companies, large and small,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “It is an acknowledgment that industries need more flexible and nimble information-sharing platforms to combat cyberthreats in the future.”

A Time for action

But the executive order wasn’t the only thing on the minds of trade groups Friday.

Immediately before the summit, the Retail Industry Leaders Association launched a new advocacy campaign offering a security solution of its own: the adoption of chip-and-PIN security technology in credit and debit cards, which RILA says U.S. banks have been slow to adapt to.

Meanwhile, the financial industry was taking steps to thwart hackers. Credit card giant Visa announced on Friday that it will add tokenization technology to its online payment system, with the goal of making it harder for criminals to benefit from stolen credit card information. The technology would replace a credit card number with a secondary number (or “token”) during an online transaction, making data theft easier to discover.

There was room for common ground as well between the banking and retail industries. The Merchant Financial Services Cybersecurity Partnership, an effort led by the Financial Services Roundtable and RILA, among others, presented a set of payment-technology recommendations [PDF] and guiding principles [PDF] to the president.

“Ensuring consumers are protected from cybercriminals across the payments system is critical, and the merchant and the financial services industries need to continue to collaborate to enhance security measures and battle this common threat,” RILA President Sandy Kennedy and FSR CEO Tim Pawlenty said in a joint statement.

(Handout photo)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!