White House eases stance on corporate cybersecurity

April 27, 2013

Ellen Nakashima

WASHINGTON — The White House has backed away from its push for mandatory cyber­security standards in favor of an approach that would combine voluntary measures with incentives for companies to comply with them.

That approach reflects recognition of the political reality of a divided Congress that makes mandated standards difficult to push through, and a belief that an executive order President Obama signed in February could improve companies’ cybersecurity.

‘‘This is a huge focus for my office right now — driving forward and staying on track with the executive order,’’ White House cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel said in an interview this week.

Obama issued the order after a failed effort to pass legislation to ensure that computer systems in critical private-sector operations met security standards. The bill died last year in the face of stiff opposition from industry, in particular the Chamber of Commerce.