If a nation state turns out to be responsible for the JPMorgan hack, the government should respond, the nation's former top law enforcement official said.
A summer cyber strike on the bank's network exposed the names, addresses and emails of 76 million households and 7 small businesses.
Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey said the proper response to the JPMorgan hack by the government, for now, "is to try to find out who did it and why."
"If it is a nation state, then the government ought to be able to respond because that is a major part of the economy of the United States," he added. It “doesn’t have to be a cyber response. You can respond in a whole wide variety of ways. If this was an asymmetric attack, then let’s be asymmetric in response."
It is said the perpetrators might have ties to Russia or another Eastern European country.
"But I don’t know that it was a nation state," said Mukasey, the former top cop from 2007 to 2009 under President George W. Bush.
Mukasey was briefing reporters at a dinner, organized by the French-American Foundation, during a two-day closed-door cybercrime conference convening U.S. and European officials, industry members and security experts.
More broadly, Mukasey said the executive branch's role in policing cyber mischief is to deploy the capabilities of the National Security Agency. He said the private sector must learn to trust the government and share information about hacks they have suffered -- but he stopped short of calling for mandatory disclosures.
"I think what the executive branch can do is protect the country and its infrastructure through the resources of the NSA," he said.
Mukasey said it is up to companies to inform the government of their system vulnerabilities.
"They are the ones who innovate, not the government, and they are the ones whose innovations need protection," said Mukasey, who now represents corporate clients as a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton. "So I think their cooperation with the government is something that ought to be in their interest and they will see that."
JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon earlier in the day reportedly said cooperation between authorities and his bank have been good so far in dealing with a mega-data breach, but coordination likely would need to improve as threats advance.