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US-DEFENSE-CYBERSECURITY-SUMMIT
'Cyber legislation remains a very important part of this journey,' says Adm. Michael Rogers, commander of US Cyber Command, director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and chief of the Central Security Service. (SAUL LOEB / AFP/Getty Images)

BALTIMORE — Top cybersecurity leaders in government are now hashing out how various cybersecurity-related agencies will handle the mission to protect critical infrastructure from cyber attacks.

Adm. Mike Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency and commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, said Tuesday that he met June 23 with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and FBI Director James Comey to discuss “what can we do collectively between our organizations to help build that partnership, to help the U.S. government apply its capabilities to support the broader civil sector that’s out there.”

Rogers spoke at a cybersecurity conference organized by AFCEA International.

He called on Congress to pass legislation that would better integrate the government and private sector on cyber security matters. Until now, legislation has been held up in part by private sector concerns that companies could be held liable for harm that results from cyber attacks upon privately-owned networks that are critical to public health and safety.


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“I believe that cyber legislation remains a very important part of this journey because while the voluntary basis for information sharing that we have been using for the last few years has shown some progress, it just has not gotten us where we need to be,” he said. “I believe we have to come up with some vehicle to help the private sector deal with its very valid concerns about liability, how it’s going to deal with the liability it potentially incurs if it shares information with the federal government, if it takes action against information the federal government provides.”

He said the stakes for improving better coordination and communication between government and the private sector are high.

“In the end, if we can’t create an environment where we have a dynamic information flow and a common situational awareness between particularly critical infrastructure in the civil sector and the capabilities that the U.S. government brings to this fight ... if we can’t bring this all together in a real-time basis, it’s like we’re fighting with one hand tied behind our backs and it’s a losing defensive proposition to me.”

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