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Obama Presses Cybersecurity Standards With Company Chiefs

U.S. Cybersecurity
Staff members work at the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center facility in Arlington, Virginia. Photographer: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Oct. 29 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama conferred with Brian Moynihan, chief executive officer of Bank of America Corp., along with corporate leaders from consumer, utility and defense companies as the administration prepares standards intended to enhance U.S. computer-network security.

Amid reports of widespread hacking traced to China, Obama in February ordered development of voluntary cybersecurity standards for companies operating vital national infrastructure such as power grids and air-traffic control systems.

The initial plan developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology was published in the federal register today. Final guidelines are due by February 2014

Obama and the executives “discussed the implementation of the president’s order,” Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said after the meeting concluded. The group represented companies that worked most closely with the government on the framework.

Others attending the meeting in the White House Situation Room were Ajay Banga, chief executive officer of MasterCard Inc., Charles Scharf, CEO of Visa Inc., Steve Bennett, CEO of Symantec Corp., Wes Bush, CEO of Northrop Grumman Corp., Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin Corp. CEO, Renee James, president of Intel Corp., and Joseph Rigby, CEO of Pepco Holdings Inc.

Information Sharing

The administration has been pressing for legislation to encourage companies to share cyberthreat information with the government.

A White House-backed measure failed in the Senate amid opposition from businesses. The administration threatened to veto legislation passed by the House of Representatives in April, saying it had inadequate privacy protections.

U.S. intelligence officials have warned that electronic attacks could disrupt the nation’s banks, utilities, telecommunications and other essential services. Former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a farewell speech in August that the U.S. will face sometime in the future “a major cyber-event that will have a serious effect on our lives, our economy, and the everyday functioning of our society.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Roger Runningen in Washington at rrunningen@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net

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