President Biden is following up his executive order on cybersecurity with more concrete actions. the leader has signed a memorandum aimed at improving digital security for the Department of Defense, the intelligence community and national security systems. The notice sets out stricter requirements, both for timelines and for the technology needed to lock down government data.
The memo allows the NSA to require agencies to take “specific actions” in response to threats and security breaches, and asks the NSA to coordinate with Homeland Security on the guidelines. Agencies will also have to identify their national security systems, report incidents, and secure tools that transfer data between classified and unclassified systems. The president’s decision also sets out timelines and guidance for implementing technologies required in the executive order, from encryption to multi-factor authentication.
Biden’s action complements an order that was initially signed in response to critical infrastructure cyberattacks. In theory, this will bolster security at some of the most sensitive federal government institutions. As with the order, though, the memo can only accomplish so much without congressional support. Virginia Senator Mark Warner, for example, used the signature to ask Congress enact legislation requiring notification of critical infrastructure breaches within 72 hours.
The timing is right, at least. The president’s effort comes as tensions mount between Russia, the US and American allies, with Ukraine blaming Russia for a series of cyberattacks that brought down government websites. The situation may not lead to outright cyberwarfare, but the US still has a strong incentive to close as many security holes as possible.
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