For too long, Washington has slept on cybersecurity. U.S. vulnerabilities have been exposed and lamented, but have not been seriously addressed, much less addressed. While hackers are bolder and more skilled, government policies and public and private funding lag behind the need.
Cybersecurity remains a largely technical reflection rather than a vital and integral part of the design and modernization of the major systems on which the well-being and security of Americans depend. Until the attack on the colonial pipes, neither the major infrastructure proposals of the Biden administration nor the Republicans in Congress even mentioned the word “cybersecurity” or “piracy”.
On the Republican side, the narrow focus on “traditional infrastructure” has led to an insufficient twentieth-century framework for 21st century infrastructure challenges. Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, the push to define infrastructure to include a wide range of social spending programs has clouded the focus on basic infrastructure requirements.
Maintain the safety of the American people
Elected officials have no higher responsibility than maintaining the security of the American people, and there is no greater threat to the security of Americans than the cyber weaknesses of the systems that support our daily lives.
This is not just a problem for rich financial policies or institutions. This is a threat to the day-to-day lives of all Americans. Our drinking water supplies, electricity systems, oil and natural gas supplies, hospitals, vehicles, traffic lights and road safety signs, air traffic control systems, railways and all companies that sell us goods and services they are vulnerable to attacks. If a group of criminals seeking a $ 5 million ransom could cause a massive gas shortage across the east coast, imagine the damage an organization that simply wanted to cause destruction could cause.
The American people, regardless of political affiliation, recognize by overwhelming the threat. According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans consider cyberterrorism to be the main threat facing the country, with 98% considering it a “critical” or “important” issue.
At the state level, governors and mayors have been concerned about the threat and taking action. In Maryland, we have established the position of Maryland’s head of information security to coordinate cybersecurity efforts, launched an economic development strategy to accelerate the growth of the cybersecurity industry, and created a learning program to prepare Marylanders to become certified cybersecurity analyst operators. .
But we cannot address this challenge at the state level. The initiative of our Association of National Governors to Rebuild America’s Ruined Infrastructure recommended that strengthening “security and resilience by protecting critical American infrastructure from disasters and cyber threats” be one of the four key pillars of any federal infrastructure bill.
It is time for leaders on both sides to take action. We all have an important role to play, but for such a big threat, the federal government must take the initiative. We’re glad to see that the Biden administration is taking steps to focus on this issue after the Colonial Pipeline hacking, but this is the third consecutive federal administration to announce a cybersecurity plan. We can’t afford another one thrown together in a hurry, announced with fanfare, but neither fully gifted nor fully implemented.
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To maintain the safety of the American people, we recommend that the federal government take the following four steps:
1) Define and enforce minimum cybersecurity standards for critical infrastructure systems.
2) Assign legal responsibility for complying with these rules and penalties for failure. Establish the legal obligation for private sector organizations to participate in a national cybersecurity network, providing information on attacks on their networks and taking actions directed by government emergency response officials.
Need for a comprehensive security plan
3) Fund and establish a national cybersecurity network linking control and response centers to major public and private networks, starting with Internet service providers and critical infrastructure components.
4) Using this national cybersecurity network, conduct periodic tests and exercises to improve national cybersecurity preparedness, address deficiencies, develop and ensure the implementation of network improvements, and deal with cyberattacks as they occur.
Without a comprehensive and strategic plan that measures results and provides adequate resources, individual initiatives by well-meaning executives and legislators will ultimately be in dire need. The consequences of this failure will not only be more disturbing attacks, but also the loss of public confidence.
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A large majority of Americans are fully convinced that our political system is fundamentally broken, that we are tragically divided, and that Washington cannot perform its basic function of protecting the security of American citizens. While this vicious cycle of partisan distrust cannot be resolved overnight, we begin by making the protection of American cybersecurity, starting with critical infrastructure, a national bipartisan success.
Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) is the Republican governor of Maryland. Dennis Blair is the former director of National Intelligence for President Obama.