March 2, 2023 saw the unveiling of the Biden administration's latest National Cybersecurity Strategy, supplanting the Cybersecurity Strategy from the Trump administration in 2018. This new strategy not only builds upon its predecessor, but also sustains the impetus behind numerous existing priorities while aiming to advance and develop many strategic initiatives that were originally launched as part of the 2008 Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative.
President Biden's extensive and all-encompassing National Cybersecurity Strategy has garnered acclaim and significant interest from the software industry. In the upcoming months and years, there will be a concerted effort to forge a collaborative path between the government and industry, addressing the vital specifics of how this overarching agenda will be put into action, including its implications for the software domain.
Five Core Principles
The Biden administration has structured the strategy around five core principles, placing emphasis on safeguarding critical infrastructure, dismantling, and disrupting malicious actors, influencing market dynamics to promote security and resilience, making strategic investments in long-term resilience, and fostering international collaborations to pursue mutual objectives.
And Two Fundamental Shifts
The new strategy highlights two fundamental shifts: a reevaluation of the division of duties in safeguarding cyberspace, and a reconfiguration of incentives to promote long-term investments. It offers a fresh perspective on the distribution of responsibilities between the government and the private sector in addressing cyber threats. This approach acknowledges the current reality, where end users disproportionately shoulder the burden of reducing these risks and, in a bold departure, aims to establish a legal framework to hold providers accountable when they fall short of basic security standards. While underscoring the government's role in safeguarding its own systems and engaging in diplomacy, law enforcement, and intelligence gathering, the strategy underscores the crucial importance of private entities protecting their own systems.
It also underscores the importance of significant public sector investments, which is essential to ensure that the United States remains at the forefront of modern technology and innovation, preserving its global leadership position.
(1) Defend Critical Infrastructure
The new strategy emphasizes that those responsible for critical infrastructure should implement cybersecurity safeguards to hinder potential disruptions by adversaries.
First, by expanding the adoption of minimum cybersecurity standards in critical sectors, which involves establishing a foundational set of security measures that organizations must adhere to. This ensures a basic level of protection against cyber threats. Simultaneously, harmonizing regulations in these sectors aims to streamline and unify diverse cybersecurity rules and requirements imposed by different entities.
Second, by enabling public-private collaboration at the speed and scale necessary to defend critical infrastructure and essential services involves fostering close cooperation between government entities and private sector organizations. This collaboration is vital to protect crucial systems and services from cybersecurity threats and requires the creation of proper frameworks and mechanisms that facilitate swift and extensive information sharing, joint planning, and coordinated responses between government agencies and private companies.
Finally, by modernizing federal networks and update federal incident response policy, which involves strengthening the security of federal networks by implementing advanced safeguards and continuous monitoring, ensuring the protection of sensitive data and government operations. Simultaneously, the initiative emphasizes the modernization of IT infrastructure, improving efficiency and security through technology upgrades. Additionally, updating the federal incident response policy enhances the government's ability to respond effectively to cybersecurity threats, minimizing potential damage and downtime. This approach aims to fortify the resilience of federal IT systems.
ISEC7 can help deploy a Zero Trust (ZT) security strategy, incorporate Zero Trust elements into your network to meet the new standards and reach your optimal cybersecurity goals. Our cybersecurity professionals are well versed in the DOD Zero Trust and CISA Maturity Model and implement technology in accordance with their requirements. Through consistent updates and monitoring, we ensure that your cybersecurity practices stay up to date with the latest security enhancements and policies.
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(2) Disrupt and Dismantle Threat Actors
The new strategy focuses on the cyber activities of Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and other states.
It clearly identifies China as the most significant threat, capable of reshaping the international order due to its growing economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power. Russia remains a persistent threat, using cyber capabilities for espionage, attacks, influence, and disinformation, while Iran and North Korea have become more sophisticated in their malicious cyber activities. It emphasizes countering Iran's threats to U.S. allies in the Middle East and both countries' use of cyberspace and cryptocurrency to offset Western sanctions. The U.S. aims to expand partnerships, including with India, to collectively attribute cyberattacks.
It also outlines a multifaceted approach to dealing with cybersecurity threats, involving the strategic use of all national resources to disrupt adversaries effectively, while also promoting private sector engagement in disruptive activities through scalable methods, recognizing the importance of collaboration beyond government boundaries. Also, it highlights the need for a comprehensive federal approach to tackle ransomware threats in coordination with international partners, underlining the global nature of these new cybersecurity challenges.
(3) Shape Market Forces to Drive Security and Resilience
The strategy emphasizes the importance of safeguarding individuals' privacy and securing their personal data, which involves measures to protect sensitive information from unauthorized access, breaches, or misuse, which may include strengthening data protection regulations, enforcing data encryption practices, and raising awareness among organizations and individuals about the significance of data security in the digital age.
It also suggests a shift in responsibility and accountability within the software development industry; instead of placing the burden solely on consumers or end-users to protect themselves from software vulnerabilities, it encourages software developers and providers to take more responsibility for the security of their products and services. Note that this shift will most surely involve legal and regulatory changes that incentivize secure coding practices, vulnerability patching, and proactive security measures throughout the software development lifecycle.
This aspect underscores the importance of cybersecurity considerations during infrastructure design and development, by building and maintaining critical infrastructure like power grids or transportation systems, with robust cybersecurity measures to withstand cyberattacks, natural disasters, and other threats. By integrating cybersecurity into infrastructure investments, the strategy aims to enhance the overall resilience and reliability of vital infrastructures and systems.
(4) Invest in a Resilient Future
The new strategy aims to tackle the current skills shortage in the software industry and simultaneously cultivate a diverse and resilient national cyber workforce, by encompassing initiatives aimed at enhancing education and training programs to equip individuals with the requisite cybersecurity skills, fostering partnerships with the private sector for practical experience, leveraging government support and incentives for educational institutions and aspiring professionals, raising awareness about cybersecurity as a viable career path, and promoting ongoing professional development to keep the cyber workforce abreast of evolving threats and technologies.
It aims to proactively address the evolving landscape of cyber threats, ensuring that future technologies are designed with robust cybersecurity measures from their inception, by prioritizing cybersecurity Research and Development (R&D) for next-generation technologies, such as post-quantum encryption, digital identity solutions, and clean energy infrastructure, underscores a forward-thinking approach to cybersecurity. In this context, it involves allocating resources and efforts to explore innovative security measures and protective mechanisms for emerging technologies. For instance, post-quantum encryption addresses the imminent threat that quantum computing poses to current encryption methods, while digital identity solutions aim to enhance online identity verification and protect against identity theft. Meanwhile, securing clean energy infrastructure involves safeguarding critical energy systems from cyber threats as the world transitions to more sustainable energy sources.
ISEC7 can help with your education and training as a leading Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) training provider in North America, and have experience delivering training, on-site or remotely, tailored to your very needs and use cases, with both private and public sectors, including government, federal agencies, and the military. In addition to classroom-based training, we also offer workshops designed to identify areas of your endpoint protection practices that can be strengthened.
(5) Forge International Partnerships to Pursue Shared Goals
In view of the escalating technological decoupling between Western nations and China, the importance of international partnerships is growing increasingly evident, and so the new strategy places a strong emphasis on revitalizing U.S. cyber diplomacy on the global stage, advocating the adherence to established international law and the promotion of universally accepted voluntary norms for responsible state conduct in cyberspace during peacetime.
The strategy aims to increase the capacity of partners to defend themselves against cyber threats, both in peacetime and in crisis, with a commitment to strengthen the cybersecurity capabilities of allied nations and organizations, which involves sharing knowledge, resources, and expertise to help these entities build robust defenses and proactive cybersecurity measures during periods of stability. By doing so, partners are better prepared to detect and mitigate cyber threats before they escalate into full-blown crises. In times of heightened tension or cyberattacks, it ensures they have the necessary tools, training, and support to respond effectively and recover swiftly, which overall eventually enhances the collective resilience of nations and organizations in the face of evolving and complex cyber threats, contributing to a more secure global cyberspace.
Based on the supply chain disruptions experienced during the COVID19 pandemic, it additionally aims to fortify global supply chains for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Operational Technology (OT) hardware, products, and services. Given the emerging tech tensions and the separation between China, the West, and many of its partners, the strategy underscores collaborative efforts with allies to establish trustworthy and dependable supply chains, particularly for critical technologies like 5G cellular network technology.
The 2023 National Cybersecurity Strategy should be acknowledged as a manifestation of U.S. aspirations to continue shaping the trajectory of the global cyberspace arena, which is undeniably reliant on U.S. infrastructure. The highlighted themes and objectives align with how Washington is navigating the evolving landscape of global technological interdependence and will undoubtedly bolster the economic resilience and cybersecurity posture of the United States amid the complexities of a multipolar global landscape. As delineated in the strategy, achieving enduring cybersecurity cannot be guaranteed, and the government's ability to respond effectively to current and unforeseen threats hinges on the collaborative efforts of government agencies, regulators, the private sector, and individual users in accordance with the Biden administration's strategy.