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Obama Signs Executive Order To Protect Against Cyber Threats

After hackers attack major U.S. media companies, the administration gets tough.

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WASHINGTON — The Obama administration announced steps taken Tuesday to step up the nation's response to emerging cyber-threats.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order hours before delivering his fourth State of the Union to Congress to strengthen cooperation between government agencies and the private sector to identify and respond to threats — including hacking — by sharing classified and unclassified information.

The order also calls for the National Institute of Standards and Technology to develop a "technology neutral" framework for protecting critical infrastructure.

The administration also issued a Presidential Policy Directive to streamline government efforts to protect physical and cyber infrastructure, including updating the National Infrastructure Protection Plan and completing a "national critical infrastructure security and resilience research and development plan within 2 years."

"Critical infrastructure must be secure and able to withstand and rapidly recover from all hazards. Achieving this will require integration with the national preparedness system across prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery," the directive says.

The measures come weeks after revelations that major media companies and government agencies have come under hacking attacks. Neither the executive order nor the directive mentions any alleged perpetrators of large-scale cybercrimes— most often linked to China, and sometimes traced to elements of its government or military.

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