AT&T, CenturyLink, Verizon protest cybersecurity proposals

AT&T (NYSE: T), CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL), and Verizon (NYSE: VZ)--three of the top U.S. telcos--have collectively said they don't support a set of new of cybersecurity recommendations developed by an advisory panel to the FCC.

The advisory panel, reports The Wall Street Journal, put together a number of suggestions on how telcos and cable MSOs could address the growing cybersecurity threats.

Members of the FCC's advisory panel said a key issue was that the telcos could not agree on how to protect their networks.

The FCC's recommendation drew a mixed reaction.

Despite the potential of the FCC panel's proposed plan, Jon Banks, a senior vice president of the Telecom Association, told WSJ that the idea of asking a company to follow a list of requirements "is likely to be not flexible and not innovative."

However, Alan Paller, a co-chairman of the group and founder of the Sans Institute, a cybersecurity research and education institute, said that  "Any connection between the FCC and any statement of what needs to be done in cybersecurity appears to be poison to these companies that control the Internet." .

Verizon and AT&T would not comment on the new proposals, while CenturyLink redirected any questions to the Telecom Association.

An uptick in cybersecurity attacks prompted the Obama administration to issue an executive order last month to develop a cybersecurity program for major industry segments such as the utility and telecommunications.

One large organization that was the victim of a large-scale cyberattack was The New York Times. In late January, the Times and its network partners AT&T and Mandiant say they stopped Chinese hackers attacking the Times' networks.

The attacks, explained the Times, mysteriously began after an article was published on Oct. 25 that said the relatives of Wen Jiabao, China's prime minister, had become wealthy during his tenure.

About one-third of the world's cyberattack traffic in Q3 2012 originated in China, according to Akamai's quarterly State of the Internet report issued in January.

For more:
- Wall Street Journal has this article (sub. req.)

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