US plans Silicon Valley cybersecurity center

New center would promote greater collaboration between the government and private sector

The U.S. government plans to open a cybersecurity office in Silicon Valley as part of its push to encourage closer cooperation between federal law enforcement agencies and the private sector.

The center will function as a satellite office of the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), a day-and-night operation that acts as an information and threat clearing house for government and private entities.

"We want to strengthen critical relationships in Silicon Valley and ensure the government and private sector benefits from each other's research," said Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security, in announcing the plans during a speech at the RSA Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.

The conference is one of the largest annual gatherings for the cybersecurity industry and Johnson coupled his announcement with a request for his audience.

"We hope to convince some of the talented workers here to come to Washington," he said, after underlining that the government didn't just want to work with the private sector on cybersecurity but that it also needed its help.

In making the announcement in San Francisco, Johnson followed a similar path as President Barack Obama, who two months earlier visited Stanford University in the heart of Silicon Valley to make a similar request.

Obama gathered together executives from major security vendors and U.S. companies to kick start a government effort to get them exchanging information on cyberattacks and threats. Obama envisages a series of industry-specific groups that will collaborate on cybersecurity in the hope that strength comes from numbers.

Companies appear largely open to the idea, but are asking for certain protections in making disclosures.

Earlier on Tuesday a number of groups in the financial industry sent a letter to House leadership urging passage of a bill that would provide a legal framework for the sharing of such information by companies in the financial sector.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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