Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced on Tuesday an unprecedented initiative to freely share information about cybersecurity threats with businesses in the city.
The Los Angeles Cyber Lab is billed as America's first city-led partnership dedicated to protecting businesses and residents from cyber attacks. The lab will circulate information gleaned from analyses of what the mayor's office called more than 4 million attempted cyber attacks on city computer networks each day.
Information gathered by the lab will alert registered business owners to attacks as they are occurring.
"A cyber attack can steal a downpayment on a young couple's first home," Garcetti said. "A cyber attack could release confidential hospital records to the public or hold a small company's data for ransom, crippling their business."
By sharing data about cyber attacks on municipal computer systems, the lab will help businesses protect their own networks from hacking attempts that might not be caught by "traditional" defense programs. The system is expected to evolve into a two-way information-sharing highway, with the city fortifying its own cyber defenses with information gleaned from hack attempts on businesses.
"Cybersecurity is one of the defining issues of our time," said John Stewart, senior vice president of Cisco, which developed the lab in concert with the city. "Private businesses and public-sector organizations must collaborate closely to protect businesses' interests and help keep our citizens more secure online."
Businesses already signed on to the effort include AEG, Amazon, Riot Games, Westfield and Southern California Edison.
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Christopher Hymes, Riot Games' director of security, told the Los Angeles Times the program holds promise if companies open up about incidents and best practices.
"We need to leave behind the concern about how we will be judged by others and realize it happens to everyone," he said of cyber attacks. "If all participating companies come to the table with that attitude and share their experiences, it will be successful."
According to the mayor's office, the city plans to eventually being an Innovation Incubator, which will use a simulated municipal computer network as a testing ground for cyber-defense technologies.