Barack Obama to host cyber crime summit in Silicon Valley

US president Barack Obama is to meet representatives of the world’s largest companies to discuss how to tackle cyber crime

US president Barack Obama is to meet representatives of the world’s largest companies, the US Secret Service, the FBI and the UK’s National Crime Agency today (13 February 2015) to discuss how to tackle cyber crime.

The meeting follows a bad year for information security with several high-profile data breaches in the US and comes amid growing fears of the global economic impact of cyber crime estimated at around $445bn a year.

The meeting at Stanford University in California will bring together academics, privacy campaigners, law enforcement officers and industry leaders, especially from the technology, retail and communications sectors.

Technology leaders include Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, but Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer and Google’s Eric Schmidt will send their cyber security heads instead, according to The Telegraph.

Announcing the meeting in January 2015, Obama said cyber security was a "challenge that we can only meet together".

"It's going to bring everybody together – industry, tech companies, law enforcement, consumer and privacy advocates, law professors who are specialists in the field, as well as students – to make sure that we work through these issues in a public, transparent fashion," he said.

The meeting comes just days after Obama announced the launch of a US intelligence unit to co-ordinate analysis of cyber threats.

According to a White House statement, Obama "wants to build support for efforts to better protect against cyber threats and share more information about cyber attacks".

The US president reportedly plans to call on technology firms to share more information with law enforcement and more closely collaborate with security services.

The meeting is also expected to look at ways of protecting consumers online in the wake of a series of major data breaches at US retailers, US healthcare firms and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Obama is due to address the meeting at 7.15pm UK time, reports the BBC.

Besides Apple’s Tim Cook, other speakers include Google vice-president Eric Grosse, Facebook chief information security officer Joe Sullivan and his Yahoo counterpart Alex Stamos.

Microsoft vice-president Scott Charney and chief executives from Visa, MasterCard and American Express are also due to speak at the meeting.

Summit a "strong step" for data security

The meeting has welcomed by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC), which administers the Payment Card Industry’s Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).

“The summit is a strong step in what is a transformative year for data security, and we are pleased to be a part of it,” said PCI SSC general manager Stephen Orfei.

We look forward to participating and leading in this effort to drive improved security vigilance and protection for payments

Stephen Orfei, PCI SSC

“The president’s emphasis on cyber security issues, coming after recent high-profile attacks and before the US transition toward Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) standard chip technology later this year, has put data protection front and centre on the national stage – which is a good thing for payment security.

“We anticipate that EMV chip will be praised at the summit and for good reason – it will button down security at the point of sale,” he said.

But, Orfei warned EMV technology is not a silver bullet and hackers will shift their focus to card-not-present transactions.

“We know that no single technology can keep us completely safe," he said. "We also know that many of the breaches we are seeing today are predictable. It’s disturbing to know that key security controls – such as daily log monitoring or implementing strong passwords – are still not being implemented. These are basic requirements of the PCI DSS,” he said.

However, Orfei said the PCI SSC is encouraged to see the White House recognising that the only way to  get out ahead of future cyber attacks is through collaboration across industries and sectors.

“We look forward to participating and leading in this effort to drive improved security vigilance and protection for payments,” he said.

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