They cut off a pipeline to the Eastern Seaboard for days, tried to poison a Florida water-treatment plant, held hospital IT systems hostage and stole an undetermined trove of information in the SolarWinds hack – all as the Biden administration searches for a way to respond.
Cyberattacks are on the rise, and they’re increasingly targeting major infrastructure installations, like transportation hubs, energy facilities and utility companies.
The technology to prevent many of these attacks already exists, experts say, and hacks targeting critical infrastructure, which can threaten American lives, are akin to acts of war.
So President Biden signed an executive order Wednesday to strengthen U.S. cyberdefenses and bolster the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, known as CISA.
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“U.S. public and private sector entities increasingly face sophisticated malicious cyber activity from both nation-state actors and cyber criminals,” the White House said in a statement. “These incidents share commonalities, including insufficient cybersecurity defenses that leave public and private sector entities more vulnerable to incidents.”
The administration also called on private companies to increase spending on their own cybersecurity, but it stopped short of bolstering offensive capabilities.
Biden’s executive actions would likely require federal agencies and contractors to meet minimum cybersecurity protocols – but that doesn’t go nearly far enough, according to former Rep. Denver Riggleman, R-Va., who spent 20 years in intelligence for the military, the National Security Agency and in private industry.
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“We need to pick the first country that f—- with us in a cyber way and bring them to their knees,” he told Fox News Wednesday.
His solution is dramatically ramping up spending for offensive cyber capabilities, and then using them disproportionately in response to any future attacks, especially when they are linked to the governments of Russia, China, Iran or North Korea.
“We choose a target that we have access to, and once we identify that target, we take out that target – and we then we [should] take it another step,” he said. “If you want to come in and hit the Colonial Pipeline, which only serves several states, we’re going to hit your major hub and want to take down half your country for a week.”
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