Last week President Obama gave a speech at a cyber-security summit organized by the White House at Stanford University. Stanford University is the hub where the internet was discovered, and Silicone Valley became the innovative engine for technology achievement and creativity. It is where young technology genius became millionaire entrepreneurs overnight.

“The Internet is providing new opportunities for innovation and to connect citizens and corporations, but also opens new vulnerabilities. The only way to defend against those is for government and corporations to work together. The government cannot do this alone. The fact is that the private sector can’t do this alone either,” says the president at Stanford University.

The government is at war with the internet, and corporations don’t have a clue to what kind of information they should share. In the last two years, hackers have infiltrated some of the largest companies in the world and exposed personal data to 100’s of million customers. No one has any idea how to catch the majority of these criminals, and they have no idea where they are located in the world.

Earlier this month, a hacking attack on health insurance giant, Anthem, exposed the personal data of up to 80 million customers and employees. This breach follows similar large-scale attacks at Target, Home Depot, and J.P. Morgan Chase. Every large company lives under the cyber-threat of an attack, and the leaders of the businesses are caught between a rock and a hard place.

All the major companies in America would like to collaborate with the government, but whistle-blower Edward Snowden has shared information that the government cannot be trusted. He proved with facts that the National Security Agency has infiltrated the networks of major internet companies and worked to undermine security standards. Some reports have even suggested that the NSA have led cyber attacks on other countries around the globe.

It is very difficult for many companies to believe that the government has cleaned up its’ act and now they can be trusted. All major US companies sign consumer privacy notices with their customers, and the companies need to know what the government will do with their customers’ information.

In his speech, the president acknowledged that the government’s track record has not been good when it comes to privacy. President Obama has asked Congress to pass a reform bill that would control some of the government’s surveillance capabilities.

“I have to tell you that grappling with how the government protects the American people from adverse events while at the same time making sure the government itself isn’t abusing its capabilities, is hard,” says President Obama. Many large companies have created encryption practices so the government cannot go on their network and gain information about its’ customers.

After the president gave his speech at Stanford, he signed an executive order on stage to promote information sharing both within the private sector and between the private sector and the government. The order establishes the Department of Homeland Security as the agency in charge of handling the information sharing.

At this point, this is new territory for the country, the citizens, and the DHS. Cyber-attacks and cyber-threats is the new war that the US is fighting on the internet. There is a new and different world out there in the universe, and the president must lead the way. We must learn to trust each other, because battles will be won and lost on the internet.

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