Cyber Security Industry Alliance Newsletter •  Volume 2, Number 10  • June 2006

Town Hall Meeting In Atlanta

CSIA Sponsors Town Hall to Discuss Data Security;
GA Attorney General Thurbert Baker Offers Keynote Address


On June 6, CSIA and the Georgia Tech Information Security Center sponsored a Town Hall discussion in Atlanta, GA entitled "Safeguarding Information on the Internet: What Consumers Should Expect of Government and Business."

The event, held in cooperation with CSIA member firm Internet Security Systems (ISS), the Technology Association of Georgia, and GeorgiaLink Public Affairs Group, featured a keynote address by Georgia Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker, who urged Congress to pass federal legislation protecting consumers’ personal information.

The Honorable Thurbert E. Baker
Attorney General, State of Georgia
delivered the keynote address

"If society doesn't trust the Internet to guard their financial information, will they continue to use the Internet to conduct business and their personal affairs?" General Baker asked the audience of technology, business, law enforcement, and academic professionals.

General Baker, president elect of the National Association of Attorneys General, warned that data security, still a relatively new threat, challenges businesses and lawmakers to find appropriate ways to protect consumers without imposing burdensome regulations on companies.

Thomas E. Noonan
President & CEO
Internet Security Systems
introduced General Baker

Waning consumer confidence in conducting online transactions has prompted action on the part of federal, state and local governments. So far, 34 states — including Georgia —have enacted breach notification laws.

Congress is contemplating at least five bills on the issue; and even localities, such as Westchester County, NY, are beginning to pass legislation to protect consumers from breaches of their personal information. CSIA’s survey released in April found that only 44 percent of Americans believe their information is safe when shopping or banking online, and 50 percent avoid making purchases online because of fear that their financial information will be stolen.

Paul Kurtz (Executive Director, CSIA)
discusses the need for national data security legislation.
With Kurtz are (from L to R): Horace Johnson,
Manager of Information Security Operations, Ceridian;
Mustaque Ahamad, Director, Georgia Tech Information
Security Center; and Chad Hunt, Special Agent,
Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The industry experts who followed General Baker echoed his call to Congress to take action. The panel agreed that a single national law is preferred for two reasons. First, panelists emphasized the difficulty associated with protecting personal data across multiple states because, without a single, federal framework, companies need to comply with the laws of multiple states. Second, panelists noted that, as companies implement greater protections for personally-identifiable information, consumer confidence will grow, and with it, e-commerce.

Tom Noonan, President and CEO of ISS, added that if firms ignore key security issues, they risk regulatory action and compromising of business reputation. Noonan stressed that companies suffering from data breaches "find themselves losing the trust of the very people they're in business to serve."

David Allison, Editor of the Atlanta Business Chronicle moderated the panel discussion, which included Thomas E. Noonan, President & CEO of ISS and CSIA Board Member; Chad Hunt, Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Mustaque Ahamad, Director of the Georgia Tech Information Security Center; Horace Johnson, Manager of Information Security Operations at Ceridian; and Paul Kurtz, Executive Director of CSIA.

See the Town Hall Meeting Video Transcript.