In an apparent plea to businesses to overcome any distrust they may have of government surveillance practices, a White House official has urged the private sector to work in “lock-step” with the government to strengthen cyber defenses.

Lisa Monaco, the White House’s top aide for counterterrorism and homeland security, called for greater cybersecurity cooperation in a speech Tuesday in which she announced the creation of a new office to sort through intelligence data about cyber threats.

Lisa Monaco confers with President Obama.

Lisa Monaco confers with President Obama.

While the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center is intended to integrate and analyze intelligence from various agencies and distribute information more broadly to other federal agencies, Monaco said that “to truly safeguard Americans online and enhance the security of what has become a vast cyber ecosystem, we are going to have to work in lock-step with the private sector.”

President Barack Obama is expected to make a similar overture when he meets with business leaders and other executives in California for a first-of-its-kind summit on cyber security.

“The government won’t leave the private sector to fend for itself,” Monaco said. “Partnership is a precondition of success — there’s no other way to tackle such a complicated problem.”

She told an audience at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., that if the government has “information about a significant threat to a business, we’re going to do our utmost to share it,” as officials did within 24 hours of learning about the recent cyber attack on Sony Pictures.

“We want this flow of information to go both ways,” she said, promising that “When companies share information with us about a major cyber intrusion or a potentially debilitating denial-of-service attack, they can expect us to respond quickly.”

As The Wall Street Journal reports, however, Silicon Valley companies may balk at cooperation amid “lingering distrust” of the government following 2013 leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

“The world outside the U.S. is concerned that the U.S. spies on them, which means that the new center will get minimal cooperation from any company which does business outside the U.S.,” Adam Shostack, a former member of Microsoft’s security team, wrote on his personal blog.

Photo: whitehouse.gov

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