Cybersecurity takes top priority in SOTU address after recent Sony hacks, other online hacking

Jacob Pramuk --- CNBC 

President Barack Obama is expected to push for new cybersecurity legislation during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, the first time a U.S. president has made this emerging threat a priority.

Obama will advocate for policy that encourages the private sector and government to share information on threats, expands the ability of law enforcement to prosecute cybercrime and condenses sometimes conflicting state laws into one federal statute, among other changes outlined by the White House last week

Brutal hacks such as the breach of Sony Pictures Entertainment in November, and last week's attack on the United States Central Command's Twitter feed, have sent cybersecurity vaulting up the list of priorities at top levels of government.

Devastating breaches of major companies also continue to sap activity from the U.S. economy, often leaving confidential consumer data vulnerable in the process. While Obama's proposal reflects a wider emphasis on bolstering defenses against ever-increasing digital threats, the policy, if passed, may not address the fundamental threat to businesses and consumers, experts told CNBC. 

"Everybody is in agreement that the private sector should beef up defenses, but Republicans would want to make it more of a recommendation than a requirement," said Darrell West, vice president and director of government studies at the Brookings Institute. 

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