White House advisory group raises cybersecurity concerns

White House advisory group raises cybersecurity concerns
© Getty Images

A White House advisory group says in a new report that federal agencies generally have the correct tools to protect from cyber attacks but face bureaucratic hurdles.

In its draft report circulated Tuesday, the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC) said that many of its key concerns deal with organizational woes.

"We believe the U.S. government and private sector collectively have the tremendous cyber capabilities and resources needed to defend critical private systems from aggressive cyber attacks —provided they are properly organized, harnessed, and focused. Today, we’re falling short," the report reads.

The report says that threat information-sharing programs are hindered by intelligence being classified and clearances being too difficult to obtain.

ADVERTISEMENT

Other federal critical infrastructure programs are fragmented across multiple agencies, making it difficult for private-sector infrastructure firms to navigate, according to the report.

The report makes several recommendations, including rapidly declassifying intelligence and streamlining the federal bureaucracy. It also suggests implementing market-based incentives to improve cybersecurity, bolstering the workforce with a public-private expert exchange program and hardening communications systems to use in case of emergency. 

"It's a really strong proposal," said Robert M. Lee, chief executive of Dragos, Inc., a firm that focuses on industrial and infrastructural cybersecurity. 

"What I really like about the suggestions are the fact that they come from industry leaders including CEOs of energy companies and the suggestions also speak to private sector strength, incentives, and investments by the government instead of just expecting regulations to solve everything."

A final version of the report, "Addressing Urgent Cyber Threats to Critical Infrastructure," has not yet been published.

The report was released Tuesday, a day after several members of the NIAC who developed the report tendered their resignations. The members were appointed under the previous administration.

A White House spokesperson told The Hill that the majority of the advisory council attended Tuesday's meeting.