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What President Obama's Cybersecurity Executive Order Means to You

By William Peacock, Esq. on February 19, 2013 12:01 PM

For many businesses, the announcement of anything involving new regulations elicits groans. New regulations means retraining, adjusting company policies, and often, increased compliance costs.

However, despite whispers of the dirty “r” word in the initial discussions of President Obama’s Cybersecurity Executive Order, the impact of the initiative could be positive for the few companies that are actually affected.

What is it?

The "Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity" order requires federal agencies to share information on cyberterrorism, hacking, cyber threats, and other scary things of that ilk with private companies that are involved with critical elements of the nations' infrastructure. This includes the power grid, air traffic controllers, financial institutions - basically the elements of our nation that we would be crippled without.

It will also provide recommended actions for addressing these threats and possible additional regulations.

Why do you care?

Most of won't. Unless, of course, you are one of the few vital companies that make up the nation's "critical infrastructure", the order will have little to no effect on your daily business. One would imagine that those who are privy to the government's shared information will help develop barriers to crippling cyberattacks, and thereby create a sort of security trickle-down effect when those measures are eventually shared with the private marketplace. But as for direct effects, they will be few and far between.

However, if you are in-house counsel for one of the few vial companies that make up the nation's infrastructure, this can be seen as an almost completely positive development. While this could lead to additional regulation and compliance costs, those must be weighed against the benefit of having the federal government's expertise and intelligence regarding cybersecurity issues.

A recent poll by Inside Counsel found that for more than half of in house attorneys, the top issue of concern for is data security. It can't hurt security and data breach prevention efforts to have the world's most powerful nation feeding you additional information on potential cybersecurity threats.

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