America Under Cyberattack on Biden’s Watch

"Data Security Breach" (CC BY 2.0) by Blogtrepreneur

Cyberattacks are advancing as the Biden administration is finding a way to respond. The attacks are targetting major infrastructure installations namely energy facilities, transportation hubs, and utility companies. 

The attacks are labeled by technology experts as akin to acts of war. The list starts from cutting off a pipeline to the Eastern Seaboard for days, attempt to poison a Florida Water treatment plant. The hackers also held hospital IT systems hostage and stole an undetermined bulk of information in the SolarWinds hack. 

In relation to these attacks, Biden signed an executive order to strengthen U.S. cyberdefenses and reinforce the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency or also known as CIA.

“P20210317AS-0488” (United States government work) by The White House

The White House said in a statement, “U.S. public and private sector entities increasingly face sophisticated malicious cyber activity from both nation-state actors and cyber criminals.” The statement also noted, “These incidents share commonalities, including insufficient cybersecurity defenses that leave public and private sector entities more vulnerable to incidents.”

The Biden administration also called on private companies to raise their budget for their own cybersecurity. However, the administration stopped short of reinforcing offensive capabilities. 

Biden’s executive actions would possibly need federal agencies and contractors to meet the minimum cybersecurity protocols. However, this effort will not go nearly far enough according to former representative Denver Riggleman, who spent 20 years in intelligence for the military, the National Security Agency, and in private industry.

On Wednesday, Riggleman told Fox News, “We need to pick the first country that f—- with us in a cyber way and bring them to their knees.”

His solution is to bolster the spending for offensive cyber capabilities and then use them disproportionately in response to any future attacks, particularly when they are linked to the governments of Russia, China, Iran or North Korea.

Riggleman said, “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 added, “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.”

According to him, these nongovernment hackers should be treated like terrorists. He said, they should also be squashed as well because cyberattacks that targets major points of infrastructure have similar consequences as terrorism even though they re not motivated by profit. 

Riggleman said, “If we had 96 hours with 10 states without gas and power, people would be raiding houses in 72 of those hours.” He continued, “The worst cascading effect is the way people react, right? When they don’t have power, they don’t have water, they don’t have energy. It’s scary stuff.”

Creating that kind of asymmetrical deterrent should pair the increase in cyber offensive spending with funding to modernize the cyberdefenses of U.S. infrastructure, which appears to be glaringly exposed in the wake of numerous recent cyberattacks.

“It’s gonna take a flip in resolve, and I would hope that the Biden administration has that resolve,” he said.