FCC: Companies must step up to improve cybersecurity or else...

By Lori Sandoval, Tech Times | June 16, 8:21 AM

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Cybersecurity

The Federal Communications Commission is pressuring telecommunications firms and network providers to strengthen its measures in cybersecurity or else the agency will step in. Will these private firms cooperate?
(Photo : Dave Bleasdale)

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is urging all network providers and telecommunications companies to take steps in enhancing cybersecurity measures, or else it will enforce regulations to make accountabilities. 

Delivering remarks at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. on June 12, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler says stakeholders in this sector must come up with new paradigm for cyber readiness or for cyber risk management, starting with leaders in the private sector recognizing how easily these cyber threats cross national and corporate boundaries.

“The challenge is that this private sector-led effort must be more dynamic than traditional regulation and more measurably effective than blindly trusting the market or voluntary best practices to defend our country. The new paradigm for the communications sector must be real and meaningful. It has to work,” Wheeler says.

If it doesn’t work, he says everyone must be ready with alternatives.

He explains that the developments in industries at present are grounded on the use and exchange of digital information delivered by these networks or telecommunications. That said, these firms are an integral part of the society and its security is important.

The new initiative is for telecoms and networks to come together in strengthening the system and researching new technologies that will prevent hackers from infiltrating such system. These firms are also expected to examine the current state of the cybersecurity workforce in the nation. If such efforts don’t make way for improvements, FCC will step in, finally acting on its mission as a regulator and promoter of public safety and network security.

Wheeler reveals that a topnotch team will guide the private sector with the new paradigm, spearheaded by Dave Simpson, chief of Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. To assist Simpson in navigating the strategic and legal considerations, Clete Johnson, who is a veteran in the Senate Intelligence Committee, filled up the new position as chief counsel for Cybersecurity. FCC’s Jeff Goldthorp will also be part of Admiral’s team.

Based on a study mentioned in Wheeler’s speech, 90 percent of the recent security breaches could have been thwarted with the implementation of basic or intermediate security measures.

“People recognize that cybersecurity is a problem that must be addressed, but too few people are acting on this information – from consumers who may not know exactly why they need to update their passwords, to C-suite executives who don’t yet fully grasp the threat that cyber attacks pose to their companies’ viability, nor how they can match the risk with investment in cyber defenses. We believe our work can help change behavior, and we expect that stakeholders will rise to this challenge,” Wheeler says.

The FCC chairman’s call to act on cybersecurity was well received by industry officials, research says.

"Broadband providers must work collaboratively with government and across various sectors to develop sound industry practices," Myrna Soto, senior vice president at Comcast, said, adding it will continue to work with the chairman and FCC in developing measures to ensure cybersecurity.

The new initiative of the FCC on cybersecurity is said to have come months after the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) introduced recommendations for businesses searching for ways to strengthen its cyber defenses. NIST warns that if these private firms fail to empower their defenses for customer data and infrastructure, the economy of the nation could freeze.

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