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(WASHINGTON) — Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano today said the Obama administration is getting closer to issuing an executive order on cybersecurity following the failure of Congress to pass legislation on the issue earlier this year.

Napolitano said that while the president has not reviewed the draft himself, the draft executive order has been circulating among the national security community.

“There is an executive order that’s being drafted in the interagency process. I can’t give you a firm timeline, but it will help in terms of clarifying authorities and the like. But it can’t do a few things that only legislation can do,” Napolitano said this morning at a cybersecurity summit hosted by the National Journal. “So the executive order — an executive order will help, but we still need comprehensive cyber legislation. It’s something that, you know, the Congress is going to have to come back and address.”

According to officials the executive order will direct the government and critical infrastructure sectors such as water, power and other critical facilities and services to develop voluntary guidelines. It is unclear what the executive order would mean for private sector companies or if they would be required to follow guidance in the order.

“What we’re talking about is a very viable and vital partnership between the public and private sectors, where there’s real-time information sharing and where there’s the employment of best practices and the best technologies available,” Napolitano said.  “So I don’t view this is as the government coming in and telling you what to do. Far from it. What we’re saying is, look, if you are the owner and operator of core critical infrastructure on which other businesses depend and families depend and communities depend, we need to make sure that your cyber networks are as secure as possible and that should you be detecting signs of malware or intrusion and the like, there is real-time information sharing so we can help mitigate the threat.”

The draft has been circulating in the intelligence community and DHS, the Pentagon, Justice Department, FBI, Commerce, Energy and the National Security Agency.

Asked about how she practices cybersecurity herself, Napolitano offered that she lives an email-free lifestyle.

“Don’t laugh, but I just don’t use email at all,” Napolitano said. “I don’t have any of my own accounts, and then that — you know, I’m very secure. …Some would call me a Luddite.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


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