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The US Department of Commerce is broadening its attention beyond the critical infrastructure sector, proposing security codes of conduct for the rest of the Internet economy.

Its new report, Cybersecurity, Innovation and the Internet Economy, has a wide scope, from the small business with a Website through to social networks and cloud services. It defines the “Internet and Information Innovation Sector” as covering information services, transactional services, storage and hosting, and user access to services.

Produced by the DoC’s Internet Policy Task Force, the 77-page report notes that as security threats grow, “technology and procedures need to evolve even faster”.

The paper calls for the development of codes of conduct for Internet businesses, and while preferring these to be voluntary, the DoC notes that the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) should be on hand to develop guidelines for businesses too small to create their own.

Standardisation of security – or rather, the frequent lack of it – is highlighted, and the paper suggests that greater automation of security is also a priority. The DoC lists a group of incentives it believes need to be applied to encourage better security, including disclosure rules topping the list.

One of the thorniest issues for anyone promoting security is that like the seat belt in a car, it only looks like an investment when something goes wrong. The report calls for the development of cost-benefit analysis tools which would help justify (and therefore promote) better information security.

And because this is, after all, the Department of Commerce, the interests of US security companies aren’t far from its mind. As it states in its press release, one aim of America’s cybersecurity policies should be to “enhance international collaboration on cybersecurity best practices to support expanded global markets for US products”. ®

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