In his fifth State of the Union address last night, President Barack Obama announced a cyber security executive order after several years of Congress failing to take adequate legislative action.

“We know hackers steal people’s identities and infiltrate private email. We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets,” Obama said. “Now our enemies are also seeking the ability to sabotage our power grid, our financial institutions, and our air traffic control systems. We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and our economy.”

The main focus of the executive order is to enable optional and more efficient data sharing between the private sector and government agencies in order to combat cyber terrorism, whether state-sponsored or otherwise, as well as curb the growing trends of credit card fraud and identity theft.

A briefing on cyber security has been scheduled for the Commerce Department later today. Several attempts have been made to push legislation through Congress in the last few years, though each one has stalled out and left countless industries, trade organizations, businesses and consumers frustrated.

The executive order and any future related legislation will certainly impact businesses, as cyber security affects virtually everyone these days. Merchants should work with card processing software providers who stay informed on these matters and provide robust technical support so that relevant updates can be made as needed.

Safeguarding consumer data, especially payment information, is a major priority for the Obama Administration, not to mention the consumers themselves. When businesses make it clear that they share this priority, customers will respond in a positive manner.