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Cybersecurity executive order after cyberattack to Colonial: urgent private-public collaboration


On Thursday, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to strengthen U.S. cybersecurity defenses. Accordingly, this move follows a series of cyberattacks on private companies and federal government networks, the most recent being last week’s hack to Colonial Pipeline.

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New cybersecurity executive order

Thus, the Colonial Pipeline hack is the latest example highlighting U.S. cyber vulnerabilities. For instance, last year, some hackers gain access to communications and data in several government agencies after breaching software from I.T. company SolarWinds.

In Colonial’s case, the hack impact grappled its operations and led to widespread fuel shortages along the U.S. East Coast. Therefore, the assault, carried out by the criminal cyber group known as DarkSide, forced the company to shut down approximately 5,500 miles of pipeline. Thus, this led to a disruption of nearly half of the East Coast’s fuel supply.

Similarly, foreign governments have been accused of launching cyberattacks to conduct espionage and sabotage. For instance, in April this year, Washington formally held Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service was found responsible for carrying out the SolarWinds cyberattack.

In this sense, the president’s executive order calls for the collaboration between the federal government and the private sector. Notably, this partnership would look to confront “persistent and increasingly sophisticated malicious cyber campaigns” that threaten U.S. security.

Accordingly, Biden’s executive order takes several steps aimed at modernizing the nation’s cybersecurity. For instance, one is removing barriers for sharing threatening information. Thus, the order requires I.T. service providers to tell the government about cybersecurity breaches that could impact U.S. networks.

Private-Public collaboration

Also, the order calls on companies and the government to create a set of definitions for federal responses to cyber incidents. Moreover, modernizing federal government cybersecurity is also part of this commitment.

Thus, Biden’s administration is pushing toward upgrading cloud services and other cyberinfrastructure. Besides, the new order mandates the deployment of multifactor authentication and encryption with a specific period.

Additionally, the legislation calls for improving the security of software sold to the government. Moreover, it establishes a “Cybersecurity Safety Review Board” comprising public- and private-sector officials. Finally, it improves info-sharing within the federal government.

News of the president’s action came about an hour after Colonial announced it restarted pipeline operations. However, the company pointed out that it will be days before fuel deliveries return to normal.

“Colonial will move as much gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel as is safely possible and will continue to do so until markets return to normal,” said the statement.

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