Listen Live

(WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.) – The National Security Agency’s director of cybersecurity says the private sector is a critical partner in the fight against hackers.

Rob Joyce told a Purdue cybersecurity conference businesses have to be the cyberdefense front line, because they hold 85% of the Internet’s critical infrastructure, from servers to firewalls. He says there’s no longer any meaningful distinction between federal agencies’ cybertechnology and what’s in private hands.

And Joyce says business and government computers aren’t separate targets where hackers are concerned. He says cybercriminals are increasingly hacking into private systems as a beachhead to gain easier access to government targets.

Joyce says the Justice Department is prosecuting cybercriminals more aggressively, but says the foreign origins of many attacks limits what can be done through the justice system. He says the State and Treasury Departments are working to cut off hackers’ finances and prod companies to deny them safe havens from prosecution.

And Joyce says slowing down cybercriminals begins with the basics. He says companies need to commit to following best practices in writing software code to avoid known vulnerabilities. He says universities should make that a core competency for their students.