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Cyberattacks grave national security threat: WH advisor

Biz-Gov cybersecurity collaboration

Cyberattacks are one of the gravest threats to national security, White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett told CNBC on Friday.

"The attackers are becoming more sophisticated. The number of attacks are increasing exponentially," she said in an interview with "Closing Bell. "

President Barack Obama met with Silicon Valley leaders Friday during a summit on cybersecurity and consumer protection at Stanford University. It was part of his effort to forge a public-private partnership to try the thwart hackers.

After speaking at the conference, the president signed an executive order aimed at encouraging companies to share more information about cybersecurity threats.

White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett (right) is shown during a Nov. 13, 2014, meeting at the White House.
Manuel Balce Ceneta | AP Photo

Some big Silicon Valley companies have been hesitant to fully support more mandated cybersecurity information sharing without reforms to government surveillance practices exposed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

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While some heads of companies didn't attend the conference, instead sending cybersecurity representatives, others, such as Apple's Tim Cook and Intel President Renee James, were there.

James was enthusiastic about the partnership.

"This conversation today just demonstrates the incredible amount of support that we're getting and the open dialogue we're getting between the administration and the CEOs here in the valley," she told CNBC.

She said Intel has already worked on a framework to improve its cybersecurity and is sharing it with other companies. The tech giant has also recently announced a new biometric identification program called True Key, which James said should make it easier to protect passwords.

Both James and Jarrett agreed that one of the most important things is that companies share data.

"We have to make sure information is being shared so if there are early alerts that there is a penetration or attack coming that we are sharing that information so that we can get out ahead of it and either avert the attack or try to limit the damage that is done by it and also recover as quickly as we can," Jarrett said.

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—Reuters contributed to this report.