Silicon Valley welcomes cyber-security push

May 29, 2009 7:57:08 PM PDT
High-tech companies in Silicon Valley are embracing a new initiative by the White House to beef up cyber-security. New measures are necessary due to a huge rise in identify theft and computer viruses.

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Companies like Santa Clara-based McAfee are in business to track cyber-attacks. Their research indicates the U.S. is getting 39 percent of all threats on the Internet. Germany and China are a distant second and third. So Silicon Valley tech firms say it's about time cyber-security has become a major focus at the White House.

"This is really a subject that should have been at the forefront for the last, more than a decade really, and I'm finally glad to see some progress being made," says Ken Silva, Verisign's chief technology officer.

Silva's company, Mountain View-based Verisign, specializes in protecting online data and securing Internet transactions. The president says he will personally select a cyber-czar to create a security plan.

"We will insure that these networks are secure, trustworthy and resilient," says President Obama.

The challenge will be stopping cyber-criminals who are becoming more sophisticated.

"What cyber-criminals and cyber-spies are really after now is high-value information, so they're trying to attack companies to get hold of intellectual property, they're trying to attack governments to get hold of secret plans or military plans," says Joris Evers from McAfee.

Reports that spies from China and Russia may have the ability to disable the U.S. power grid sounded alarms. Computers at private companies already are being compromised.

"We estimate that about a trillion dollars in intellectual property was lost worldwide due to cyber-crime and data breaches in the last year," says Evers.

To be successful, the president's advisors say cyber-security will require a global commitment.

"This could wind up being multiple tens of billions of dollars, and that's just in the short-term, and in the long-term, it could be hundreds of billions of dollars," says Silva.

Experts are saying it will take at least five years to implement the president's plan, but to keep cyberspace safe may be a never-ending battle.

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