For years, hackers have been sharpening their tools and scouting for new targets to penetrate cyberdefenses, making cybersecurity a major problem that the United States faces today. Both the public and private sectors remain at risk for both nation-state cyber threats, with Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea leading the list; as well as non-state cybersecurity threats such as terrorists and criminals. Considering the gravity of the danger every cybercrime poses, what steps has the government been doing to address such threats?
What Has Been Happening
The recent election hacks and government data attacks are some of the government’s motivation to establish a cybersecurity law. According to Thales Data Threat Report, the data breach is becoming a “new reality” for US federal government agencies. Based on its recent study, federal agencies are at a higher rate of breaches compared to other industries, with 71% among U.S. federal agencies recorded to have been breached. Federal government agencies are at much higher risk since they handle private data of citizens.
A research conducted by the US Intelligence Community states that the “potential for surprise” in cyberspace will increase in the next years as there would be more connected devices that have little security in them. The risk increases as both nation states and individual hackers become more encouraged and equipped in executing their cyber attacks.
Aside from federal government agencies, other sectors continue to brace themselves for breaches. Hacks targeting transportation systems, electrical grids, and other critical infrastructures are looming. Data privacy remain at risk as companies that hold social security numbers and birth dates continue to be vulnerable to cyber attacks. Hackers, allegedly from North Korea, have been targeting holders of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The government must also strengthen its guards against potential cyber attack in the upcoming midterm elections in November, considering how hackers have targeted numerous voting systems in 2016.
Research suggests that encryption technologies are critical tools in helping government agencies to protect their data. Agencies are now starting to consider encryption as the most effective way to support cybersecurity. There are now projects targeting to implement encryption for data protection. Currently, only 23% among federal agencies use encryption, but this number can go up to 84%.
About a year ago, President Trump issued Executive Order 13800 or the Presidential Executive Order on Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure, with the intention of toughening the nation’s cyber posture and capabilities amidst the cybersecurity threats. Along with it, more than 240 bills and resolutions concerning cybersecurity were introduced, while 28 states enacted their new policies in 2017.
To address national cybersecurity threats, initial actions were taken by ordering the heads of executive departments and agencies to submit, within 90 to 240 days, a comprehensive report about the country’s preparedness against cybercrimes.
The rollout of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May is a big leap in protecting data privacy in Europe, as well as in holding big tech companies accountable for data breaches. The risks are growing and the government needs to keep up.
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