Citing growing threats to public and private networks, the U.S. government has announced several initiatives in recent days to shore up the nation’s cybersecurity.

To increase cybersecurity information sharing between the government and private sector, President Obama will propose legislation to grant liability protection to companies that share information on cyber threats, according to the White House and the Department of Defense.

Under the legislation, industry could share cyber threat indicators, such as Internet protocol addresses, date-time stamps and routing information, with the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC). Companies would also be able to share information through private sector-led Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations (ISAOs).

The “government and the private sector are still not always working as closely together as we should,” Obama said in a Jan. 13 speech at the NCCIC in Arlington, Va.

Previous attempts to approve liability protection stalled in Congress. But recent high-profile hacking attacks, such as the one North Korea allegedly made against filmmaker Sony Pictures Entertainment, could give the idea new momentum.

The White House also announced it will hold a Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection on Feb. 13 at Stanford University in California. The summit will include senior federal officials, technology company representatives and others and will address such topics as increasing public-private partnerships and cybersecurity information sharing, improving cybersecurity practices and technologies, and making payment technologies more secure.

The White House said that the Department of Energy will provide $25 million over the next five years to help historically black colleges and universities train cybersecurity professionals. The money will go to a consortium of 13 educational institutions and two national laboratories.

Obama is expected to highlight many of his administration’s cybersecurity efforts in his Jan. 20 State of the Union speech.

Separately, Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronnie D. Hawkins Jr., the director of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), said Jan. 12 that his information technology organization is in the midst of a reorganization to cut costs and deliver its capabilities more quickly. DISA also continues to work with U.S. Cyber Command to stand up the previously announced Joint Forces Headquarters DoD Information Network (DoDIN), which will oversee operations to protect military networks.

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Marc Selinger is a journalist based in the Washington, D.C., area. He can be reached at marc2255@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter at @marcselinger.
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