In a keynote address at the Black Hat 2015 conference in Las Vegas, a top Obama official has called for more trust between the government and cybersecurity professionals so information about cyber threats can be shared.
According to the deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland security, Alejandro Mayorkas, there exists a “trust deficit” between government organizations and data security workers which needs to change.
"The best way to address the trust deficit is to build trust," Mayorkas said at the final day of the conference. "That's probably not an overnight process. It may very well be an incremental process but it has to start somewhere. I ask that we be given the opportunity to bridge whatever trust deficit exists — let's start somewhere."
Several attendees expressed fears that anything they shared with the government about cyber threats could be used against them, and questioned how they could trust national security agencies to protect their information when governmental cybersecurity measures have failed so often - citing the recent Office of Personnel Management leak as an example.
The deputy secretary acknowledged the concerns and stated that the White House has recently taken drastic steps to heighten overall governmental cybersecurity and is involved in ongoing efforts to invest in research and development in the area.
"Different parts of the government are more advanced than others," he said, adding that the "OPM breach was obviously a significant challenge […] but in government one must address it as an opportunity."
The Office of Personnel Management hack which took place in June is believed to be the biggest government data breach in US history. The action, which exposed the personal data of some 21.5 million people, was blamed on Chinese hackers. A cyber attack on Forbes and a US Postal Service breach last year also named Chinese hacking groups as the prime suspect.