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Security specialist Ridge calls for private, government cyber cooperation

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HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — The federal government is likely to look more closely at the private cyber insurance market as a way to enhance cyber security, according to former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.

Mr. Ridge offered that assessment in response to an audience question after he delivered his keynote speech at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America's annual meeting in Hollywood, Florida, on Monday. Mr. Ridge, who serves as president and CEO of Washington-based consultant Ridge Global, added he didn't know whether the government would eventually step in with a cyber insurance backstop as it has for terrorism risk if the private sector can't provide enough coverage.

Mr. Ridge said that what he called the “digital forevermore” was one of two new and permanent conditions facing the United States and the world; the other being global terrorism. The cyber world presents the greatest threat to U.S. security and economic well-being, he said. “Our infrastructure generally is exposed,” raising the possibility of a catastrophe affecting millions of people, according to Mr. Ridge.

He called for more information-sharing between the government and private sector, but said that the sharing must provide safe harbors for private entities. Insurance is part of the way to manage the risk, said Mr. Ridge.