Trump, New York, USA - 12 Jan 2017

WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump has appointed former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani to chair a new cyber security committee, with an emphasis on outreach to the private sector.

Sean Spicer, incoming White House press secretary, said Thursday that Giuliani will head the new cyber task force that has been given 90 days from Trump’s first day in office to create a national cyber security plan.

“The [former] mayor will be sharing his expertise with the president-elect concerning cyber security challenges and emerging solutions in the private sector,” Spicer said. “He believes the answers to America’s cyber security threats will be found within America’s innovative private companies. In an effort to facilitate the process, the mayor will organize an ongoing series of meetings with the president-elect and senior executives from companies working to mitigate the rapidly changing cyber security threat.”

Giuliani, who spoke to reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower, said: “Over the course of the last 20 years, our ability to use modern technology has evolved in ways we couldn’t possibly imagine — really fast, very quick. Our ability to defend that has lagged behind as our offense has gotten ahead of our defense.”

“What [Trump] wants to make sure is that we now spend time having our cyber defense catch up to our offense,” Giuliani added. “The purpose of this group is to bring to him the top corporate executives and top thought leaders in the private sector who are, number one, experiencing problems but are also, number two, working on solutions to the problem.”

Cyber security is an area important to retailers that have been seeking collaboration with the government for months to help curb cyber attacks.

Trump plans to hold a series of meetings with senior corporate executives from “companies which have faced or are facing challenges similar to those facing the government and public entities today, such as hacking, intrusions, disruptions, manipulations, theft of data and identities and securing information technology infrastructure,” Trump’s communications office said.

The “intent is to obtain experiential and anecdotal information from each executive on challenges faced by his or her company, how the company met the challenges, approaches which were productive or successful, and those which were not,” the transition team said.

However, the cyber security group has no plans to give advice or recommendations resulting from the meetings, Trump’s team said.

Giuliani, a close adviser to Trump during the campaign, has a government career in law enforcement and 16 years of experience providing security solutions to the private sector, according to Trump’s team. He is chairman of the global cyber security practice at Greenberg Traurig and chairman and chief executive officer of Giuliani Partners, an international security consulting firm.

Cyber security is an important issue for retailers and one the Obama administration prioritized in the wake of several high-profile cyber attacks. A growing number of cyber attacks have impacted a broad swath of the U.S. economy, ranging from Target Corp., Home Depot and Sony Pictures to banks and government agencies, during Obama’s two terms.

Obama unveiled a cyber security center to coordinate and analyze cyber-threat assessments across agencies and disseminate information rapidly, and issued an executive order laying out a framework for expanding collaboration between the private sector and government.

Lawmakers have been considering various data breach bills among heightened concerns following massive data breaches that have hit several major retailers.

Retailers have been strong advocates of a federal breach-notification standard to replace a patchwork of state laws that retailers must meet when data security breaches are discovered and consumer financial and personal data are compromised.

“Cyber intrusion is the fastest growing crime in the United States and much of the world,” the transition team said. “Its impact is felt from the individual citizen whose identity is stolen to the large private and government entities that have seen their confidential information seriously compromised. It is also a major threat to our national security.”

The Trump team said defenses have “lagged behind” the proliferation of high-speed communication and technologies.

“The President-elect recognizes that this needs immediate attention and input from private sector leaders to help the government plan to make us more secure,” the team added.