President Biden unveiled new measures to tighten cybersecurity around key American infrastructure.
According to the White House, President Biden has created an “Industrial Control Systems Cybersecurity Initiative” — a “voluntary, collaborative effort between the Federal Government and the critical infrastructure community to significantly improve the cybersecurity of these critical systems.”
The White House’s memo explains:
The Initiative creates a path for Government and industry to collaborate to take immediate action, within their respective spheres of control, to address these serious threats. The Initiative builds on, expands, and accelerates ongoing cybersecurity efforts in critical infrastructure sectors and is an important step in addressing these threats. We cannot address threats we cannot see; therefore, deploying systems and technologies that can monitor control systems to detect malicious activity and facilitate response actions to cyber threats is central to ensuring the safe operations of these critical systems.
The Initiative began with a pilot effort with the Electricity Subsector, and is now followed by a similar effort for natural gas pipelines. Efforts for the Water and Wastewater Sector Systems and Chemical Sector will follow later this year.
President Biden also instructed the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Commerce to “develop and issue cybersecurity performance goals for critical infrastructure to further a common understanding of the baseline security practices that critical infrastructure owners and operators should follow.”
The White House’s announcement arrives as the United States faces rising cybersecurity threats from hostile nations such as China and Russia.
Last month, the Senate approved the “U.S. Innovation and Competition Act” — a $250 billion bill that would boost American research and development capabilities to stave off the accelerating technological prowess of China.
“As a China hawk and a fiscal hawk, I would have liked for this bill to take a more focused and aggressive approach to the China threat — but this is a strong start,” explained Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) in a press release. “The Chinese Communist Party is working overtime on cyber, AI, and machine learning so that they can become the world’s preeminent superpower. We can’t let our foot off the gas.”
Earlier in July, a Russian criminal organization reportedly targeted hundreds of American businesses in a sophisticated ransomware attack — days after Biden gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a list of infrastructure that “should be off-limits to attack, period, by cyber or any other means.”
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm recently asked Congress for $201 million following the Colonial Pipeline incident, which caused gas shortages across the southeastern United States: “As we have seen, the Colonial Pipeline incident made it clear that the fact that we do not have cyber standards on pipelines like we do on the electricity sector, that suggests a major hole. I will say that it is clear that there are gaps, not so much in our ability internally to respond but in our ability to see what is happening in the private sector.”
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