Biden Administration Takes Steps to Protect Critical Infrastructure from Cyberattacks

The Biden administration announced on Wednesday a series of actions to improve the cybersecurity of the nation’s critical infrastructure, which has been increasingly targeted by cyberattacks from foreign adversaries and criminal groups.

The president signed a National Security Memorandum (NSM) that directs the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop cybersecurity performance goals for critical infrastructure sectors, such as power, water, and transportation1. The NSM also formally establishes the President’s Industrial Control System Cybersecurity (ICS) Initiative, a voluntary effort to deploy technologies and systems that can detect and respond to cyber threats in real time1.

The announcement comes after several high-profile attacks on critical infrastructure around the world, including the ransomware attacks on the Colonial Pipeline and JBS Foods in the United States, which disrupted fuel and meat supplies and exposed significant cyber vulnerabilities in the private sector, which owns and operates most of the nation’s critical infrastructure12.

The administration said that it will work with Congress to enact legislation that will provide additional authorities and resources to CISA and NIST to enhance their capabilities to protect critical infrastructure. It also urged the private sector to take immediate steps to improve their cybersecurity posture and collaborate with the federal government to share information and best practices1.

“Cybersecurity threats to critical infrastructure are one of the most significant strategic risks for the United States, threatening our national security, economic prosperity, and public health and safety,” the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement3. “By preventing attacks or mitigating the spread of an attack as quickly as possible, cyber threat actors lose their power.”

According to experts, the U.S. faces a growing and evolving cyber threat landscape, as sophisticated cyber actors and nation-states exploit vulnerabilities to steal information and money and are developing capabilities to disrupt, destroy, or threaten the delivery of essential services24. The administration said that it will continue to take steps to safeguard U.S. critical infrastructure from these threats and ensure that the American people are protected from cyber dangers.

The Biden administration has taken decisive steps to enhance the cybersecurity of the U.S. critical infrastructure, which is vital for the national security and well-being of the American people1. By setting performance goals, launching a voluntary initiative, and seeking legislative support, the administration aims to prevent or mitigate the impact of cyberattacks that could disrupt or damage essential services. The administration also calls for the private sector, which owns and operates most of the critical infrastructure, to cooperate with the federal government and improve their own cybersecurity practices2. The U.S. faces a complex and evolving cyber threat landscape, and the administration is committed to safeguarding the nation from cyber dangers1.

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