On February 13, President Barack Obama issued an executive order at the White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection, located at Stanford University.
Cybersecurity is a growing issue both in our country and internationally, illustrated by the recent attacks on Anthem Inc. and Sony Pictures. On average, one breach in a company’s data can cost around $6 million. Additionally, breaches can lead to invasions of privacy and even threats on public safety. As Ilana Pelzman-Kern, a freshman at Richard Montgomery High School, noted, “cybersecurity is a huge issue because in many developing countries, people have their information on the Internet and your name, number, and social security number are all just a few key strokes away.”
Obama’s executive order suggests that private companies should work together with the government and share vital information in order to prevent these breaches from occurring. He argues that cooperation between the public and private sectors would be beneficial to both groups. Obama also hopes to strengthen international relationships and establish global jurisdictions and standards to ensure our web is safe and secure. “It’s one of the great paradoxes of our time that the very technology that can be used to do great good can also be used to imperil us and do great harm,” he said in an interview with USA Today.
Montgomery County students have diverse opinions about such a controversial issue. Pelzman-Kern states that “in conflicts that have to do with cybersecurity, the most important thing is alliances and teamwork because no single organization can take on the issue of cybersecurity alone. However, in conflicts between businesses, the sharing of digital information could be detrimental to the individual businesses.”
Some opponents argue that the President’s executive order is an abuse of power and its regulations place too much of a burden on businesses. He is pushing for more regulations on network defense, law enforcement, intelligence, and the creation and distribution of inventions and innovations.
Others who oppose Obama’s actions, including Blair High School junior Timothy Zhou, “don’t believe the government should be trusting corporate companies with valuable information and… cybersecurity should be instead funded and paid for by the companies who have sufficient amounts of money.”
Many students are trying to find alternative solutions to the problem. Junior Heartson Fan from Poolesville High School says, “I think we should help the companies themselves instead of letting the government help them because, if the companies can defend better against attacks, then the government would not have to interfere.”
In addition to the federal government action, a new bill going through the Maryland state legislature aims to prevent companies from accessing students’ data from school computers. The “Student Data Privacy Act of 2015” is sponsored by Maryland’s House Majority Leader Anne Kaiser, as well as over 40 other state delegates.
Article by MoCo Student staff writer Isabelle Zhou
Image by MoCo Student staff artist Claudia Espinoza