Demand for cyber threat intel growing, White House official says


Private sector companies are increasingly asking the federal government for cyber threat intelligence as they seek to shore up their defenses against growing online threats, a White House cyber official told lawmakers on Wednesday.

Robert Knake, a U.S. official in charge of budget and policy at the White House’s Office of the National Cyber Director, told a House Homeland Security subcommittee that companies are increasingly pushing for more data from government agencies.

“What we’ve heard from every private sector company we talked to is to make sure that we can provide the one thing that private companies can’t do on their own, which is intelligence,” Knake said.

“Only the U.S. government can collect intelligence, and only the U.S. government can provide it back. So that’s a major focus of our efforts,” he added. 

The White House official was testifying before the cybersecurity subcommittee on steps the government can take to strengthen its partnership with the private sector. Eric Goldstein, executive assistant director for cybersecurity at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and Tina Won Sherman, director of homeland security and justice at the Government Accountability Office, also testified.

Knake explained that many companies, especially large ones, already have the resources, funds and technical support to defend their networks against cyberattacks, but they have repeatedly emphasized that intelligence from the government would help bolster their systems.

“These are very well-resourced organizations for cybersecurity,” Knake said.

The officials also emphasized how crucial it is for the government to keep collaborating, share information and provide guidance to the private sector. Goldstein said that CISA, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security, recognizes “that no individual organization — public or private — has the visibility or capability alone to manage cybersecurity risks.”

“Our core goal is ensuring that every American organization has the information and tools needed to protect their enterprises and customers against cyber risks,” he added.

The hearing follows another House hearing from Tuesday in which cyber executives told lawmakers that the government should be less of a regulator and more of a partner for critical sectors in their quest to prevent and counter cyberattacks.

The executives said although they welcome some regulations, the focus should be on collaboration and information sharing between the government and the private sector.

“We’re gratified to hear in the committee’s hearing yesterday many of our partners in the private sector reflect the value of this partnership and the work that we’ve done even as we mature going forward,” Goldstein said in response to the executives’ remarks on Tuesday. 


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