WASHINGTON ——Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, and Republican committee Chairman Mike Rogers introduced legislation Wednesday that would allow the government to share classified information on potential cyberattacks with private businesses.
The bipartisan bill aims to improve communication between the federal agencies that focus on cybersecurity, which have been wary of discussing intelligence information outside the government, and private companies, which have been reluctant to publicize attacks on their computer systems.
National Security Agency and other federal agencies new authority to share details of threats with companies that have been vetted and certified by the government and would encourage those businesses to give information about attacks and vulnerabilities to the government.
"We simply can't stand by if we have the ability to help American companies protect themselves," said Ruppersberger, a Baltimore County Democrat. "Sharing information about cyber threats is a critical step to preventing them."
Rogers described "an economic cyberwar going on today against U.S. companies."
"Economic predators, including nation-states, are blatantly stealing business secrets and innovation from private companies," the Michigan Republican said.
The information at risk includes trade secrets, business plans, private information about clients, customers and employees — anything that can be stored or operated on a computer. Hackers also can disable networks, paralyzing businesses.
Officials and analysts say the number of attacks on businesses in Maryland or the nation as a whole is impossible to quantify. Companies do not always know when they have been hacked; when they do, they often keep the information to themselves.