Public and Private Sector Cybersecurity is Failing Miserably Under Biden Administration
Despite the best (or worst), efforts of the Biden administration in year one to shore up cyber defenses against an increasingly aggressive China and Russia, recent reports indicate that foreign hackers have breached multiple organizations in the energy, defense, health care, education, and technology sectors.
As a result, cybersecurity researchers are now working with the National Security Agency to attempt to expose the relentless campaign that is stealing sensitive information from US defense contractors and other sensitive targets. This kind of government targeting displays all the hallmarks of traditional attacks from the growing ranks of state-sponsored Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs).
Despite the poker face that many of the leaders of the American effort in the cybersphere have displayed at times, recently, some key figures in both the public and private sectors have seemingly thrown their hands up and accepted a weak and defensive posture as the new normal.
Over just the past week, two important and knowledgeable individuals in the ongoing global cyberwar have made statements that could only be interpreted as extremely troubling.
This past Wednesday, Jen Easterly, the newly minted director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), told congress that the “American way of life” is at risk amid a slew of new ransomware attacks and the ongoing threat of a possible catastrophic attack against the nation’s critical infrastructure.
Easterly added that, “ransomware has become a scourge on nearly every facet of our lives, and it’s a prime example of the vulnerabilities that are emerging as our digital and our physical infrastructure increasingly converge,” in comments that came after a recent CISA binding operational directive that creates a new system of cataloging known exploited cybersecurity vulnerabilities and requires federal departments to fix those flaws within a set time frame.
Meanwhile, in the private sector, an October 24 blog post from Microsoft claimed that Russian state-sponsored hacking group Nobelium spent about three months attacking companies that resell and customize managed Microsoft cloud services for public and private customers. Nobelium is also the group that has been blamed for one of the most wide-ranging hacks in history – the SolarWinds hack involving it’s Orion software.
In response, Jake Williams, chief technology officer at American cybersecurity company BreachQuest and a former team member at the US National Security Agency elite hacking team, told website VOA that the cyberattacks against Microsoft-linked IT are evidence that American managed service providers (MSPs) are not putting enough priority on security.
Williams told VOA, “The profit margins for MSPs are often razor-thin, and in the majority of cases, they compete purely on cost,” and added, “Any work they do that doesn’t directly translate to additional revenue is generally not happening.”
So, if less-resourced entities find themselves priced out of the à la carte market in terms of additional security measures, what should these individuals and small businesses do to protect themselves in an ever-changing and increasingly dangerous cybersphere? The truth is, many of the answers involve going back to basics and remaining vigilant at both the macro and micro levels.
According to a decade old resource from the FCC which lists several internal cybersecurity protocols that are still relevant today, individuals and businesses should always follow such basic practices that include training employees in security principles, providing firewall security for internet connections, making backup copies of important business data and information, limiting employee access to data and information, and limiting authority to install software.
All these options may sound elementary, but surprisingly, many small businesses and individuals lack the basic aptitude to ensure minimum requirements such as these are adhered to.
As a result, cybercriminals are raking in a king’s ransom and the proliferation of new ransomware strains shows no sign of slowing down. That growth is in spite of the US governments creation of the new Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy as well as many new initiatives that have been created in the 10 or so months of the Biden administration.
America is losing the cyber war. That much is abundantly clear. Even with the best resourced and funded efforts of the US government, the magic formula needed to stay a step ahead in this new theater of warfare eludes America. That fact puts America’s critical infrastructure in the crosshairs of potential catastrophe.
Julio Rivera is a business and political strategist, the Editorial Director for Reactionary Times, and a political commentator and columnist. His writing, which is focused on cybersecurity and politics, has been published by websites including Newsmax, Townhall, American Thinker and BizPacReview.