White House meeting will stress economic side of cybersecurity

Clinton said the reason cyber-attacks are so plentiful is that all of the economic incentives currently favor the hackers, at least with regards to private-sector attacks. He said cyber-attacks on private networks are “comparatively easy to launch, cheap to launch, the amount you can steal is enormous, and the chances of getting caught are miniscule.”

That’s because — according to Clinton — security is inherently a generation behind the attackers, and the increasingly interwoven nature of the Internet means private companies are forced to guard a perimeter that’s virtually limitless.

“It’s so easy and so profitable to have these cyber-attacks, it doesn’t matter how good the firewalls are,” Clinton said. “People will attack because the incentive is so enormous to do so.”

Clinton said the Obama administration is the first to see the issue from this perspective, which has long been advocated by industry. He said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laid out some elements of the new policy approach during a speech in January following reports of hackers in China targeting the e-mail accounts of human rights activists.

Clinton also noted that Locke’s presence at Wednesday’s meeting is another indication the administration is seeking industry cooperation. He said he expects the administration to consider tax, liability and insurance incentives among other steps to encourage industry to increase its network security.