Obama creates new cyber security agency ahead of Stanford summit

STANFORD, Calif. (KTVU) -- The White House is creating a new federal agency to combat cyber attacks in an effort to improve communication between the government and private companies that might be targeted.

President Obama has already declared cyber security to be a priority. He will arrive in the Bay Area to speak at a White House Cyber Security and Consumer Protection summit Friday at Stanford University.

Stanford is expecting about 1,500 participants to discuss cyber threats that have hit a wide range of private and public targets.

The White House pointed to a string of high-profile attacks in the past nine months: Home Depot, Target, JP Morgan Chase, the Sony Pictures cyber attack linked to the North Korean government, and a breach of the U.S. CENTCOM twitter account that was reportedly linked to the militant group ISIS.

"We are at a transformational moment in the evolution of the cyber threat. The actions we take today, and those we fail to take will determine whether cyberspace remains a great national asset, or increasingly, becomes a strategic liability," said Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President on Counterterrorism & Homeland Security.

The new Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center will collect and analyze intelligence about cyber threats facing the public and private sectors. Officials said the goal also is to streamline efforts that are currently spread across a wide range of private firms and public agencies including the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command.

Stanford Professor Herb Lin is a cybersecurity expert helping to organize the summit.

"The saying goes in the security business there are only two kinds of companies. Companies that have been hacked and companies that don't know that they've been hacked yet," Lin told KTVU.

Government officials, law enforcement and about 400 CEO's are expected to attend the summit at Stanford Friday.

Apple CEO Tim Cook and executives from Google, Yahoo, and Facebook are among the Silicon Valley leaders invited to attend.

Lin says the nation's cyber security depends on a public and private partnership.

"The private sector is responsible and owns and operates the vast majority of information technology in this country, like 80-90% of it. Very little of it by comparison is government operated or owned," Lin told KTVU.

California's Director of Technology Carlos Ramos plans to attend and says the state has already formed a task force of 100 business and government leaders to address issues here.

"In terms of setting up a Cyber Security Task Force, California is the first to do that," Ramos told KTVU, "I would say in the next month to a month and a half the task force is going to come out with a set of recommendations and proposed actions."

President Obama is scheduled to host a roundtable talk with business leaders after the summit. He will attend a Democratic fundraiser before leaving the Bay Area on Saturday.