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A new White House executive order would direct U.S. spy agencies to share the latest intelligence about cyber-threats with companies operating electric grids, water plants, railroads and other vital industries to help protect them from electronic attacks, according to a copy obtained by the Associated Press.

The seven-page draft order, which is being finalized, takes shape as the Obama administration expresses growing concern that Iran could be the first country to use cyberterrorism against the United States. The military is ready to retaliate if the United States is hit by cyber-weapons, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said. But the country also is poorly prepared to prevent such an attack, which could damage or knock out critical services that are part of everyday life.

The White House declined to say when the president will sign the order.

The draft order would put the Department of Homeland Security in charge of organizing an information-sharing network that rapidly distributes sanitized summaries of top-secret intelligence reports about known cyber-threats that identify a specific target. With these warnings, the owners and operators of essential U.S. businesses would be better able to block potential attackers from gaining access to their computer systems.

Read more at SFGate

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