Security firms forge alliance to fight growing cyber threat

The cyber threat alliance
The cyber threat alliance

As companies and organizations from Sony to Centcom face growing threats from hackers, four cybersecurity firms are have joined forces to share intelligence.

"Think of it like crowdsourcing for intelligence information for our customers," said Palo Alto Networks CEO Mark McLaughlin.

Executives from the four founding members of the Cyber Threat Alliance — Palo Alto Networks, Intel Security, Symantec and Fortinet — joined CNBC's Jon Fortt for an exclusive interview on "Squawk Alley" and explained why four fierce competitors in enterprise security decided to collaborate.

"We believe that our ability to see more, analyze more will enable us to more quickly stop attacks that are happening," said Symantec President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Brown.

And they are sharing information that has never been shared among competitors, "In particular botnet command and control, mobile malware samples and also indicators of compromise that we haven't looked at before as an industry," Brown said.

Chris Young, Intel security senior vice president and general manager, said that we are at a "tipping point" in the way companies are thinking about how to protect their assets, and which assets need protecting, including "conversations and emails between executives.... We used to think of sensitive information as Social Security numbers and credit cards, but what we're now seeing is that any information in the light of day can actually be quite sensitive for ogranizations," Young added.

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The group supports President Barack Obama's new proposals for increased collaboration between the public and private sectors, "I think the more we cooperate on the defense side to protect the customer, the better. We definitely welcome the new initiative, at the same time we also do our part," said Fortinet Chairman and CEO Ken Xie.

They made no comment on whether their intelligence supports allegations that North Korea was behind the Sony hack attack, with McLaughlin saying only, "…there are certain countries that are more capable of launching attacks and have a proclivity to do that for whatever reasons. North Korea's one of them, Russia's another one, China's one."