The groups may not be doing exactly what President Clinton envisioned when he issued PDD 63, but they are encouraging information sharing within industries, he said.
In the information technology industry, for example, the IT-ISAC runs morning phone conferences between members and with other ISACs and has improved coordination in areas like responding to worm and virus outbreaks, threat detection, containment and cleanup and patching, Copeland said.
The IT-ISAC can focus more on issues that matter to its members without government funding and involvement. However, the group does not share much with the federal government. IT-ISAC members are dubious of government requests for information, because the federal government can't say exactly how the information that is submitted will be handled or used, and why it will benefit the company to share it, Copeland said.
"ISACs are okay. But they're still getting started. They're version 1.0," said former Senior White House aide Richard Clarke, who shared the stage with Gorelick at RSA.
It is understandable for companies to be wary of letting the government in on security matters, but the government has backed off industry too much in pursuing information, such as details of computer security vulnerabilities and threats, Clarke said.
"We need a synoptic view of cyberspace that shows us where and when attacks are happening," he said. "There could be a systematic attack on infrastructure verticals and we wouldn't know it because we don't share information."