How the U.S. is Raising the Bar on Cybersecurity
"You have the power, the capacity, and the responsibility to raise the bar on cybersecurity,” President Joe Biden told a room full of executives and cabinet members in August. With news of spyware exposing sensitive government documents in the Homeland Security and Treasury departments — and hackers disrupting critical infrastructure, including food supply and the oil industry — leaders everywhere are using their power to level-up cybersecurity innovation, investments, and leadership.
The State of Cybersecurity: A Brief Overview
Biden’s remarks followed a series of well-publicized attacks in late 2020 and 2021 — including interference with the 2020 elections; the SolarWinds attack; a zero-day attack at Microsoft; ransomware affecting the Colonial Pipeline Company; and a separate ransomware incident that shut down large meat processing plants at JBS.
Cybersecurity pros and solutions often remain just one step ahead of the bad guys in the ever evolving race to secure bigger, more interconnected attack surfaces. But is one step ahead far enough? Alongside the well-publicized attacks mentioned above, there’s been a 600% increase in lesser-known cyber attacks over the past few years — and they’ve been far too successful. According to Canalys, bad actors seized more records in 2020 than in the last 15 years combined.
The Game is Changing. We Need More Players.
Imagine a nation state exponentially increasing its landmass without a large enough army to secure its borders. This is the challenge facing the digital world. More people are connected than ever before, yet the digital landscape lacks the cybersecurity workforce, tools, and laws to keep up with rising demand. In fact, according to a recent report by (ISC)², nearly three million cybersecurity jobs are currently vacant. The cybersecurity industry simply lacks qualified candidates to fill important roles.
Despite these gaps in cybersecurity, more people around the globe are moving their personal, social, and business lives online. According to McKinsey & Company, “an estimated 127 new devices connect to the Internet every second.” Innovations in technology are enabling individuals and businesses across every sector to go digital at record speed. If anyone was lagging behind prior to 2019, they likely joined the cybersphere during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Outcomes: Raising the Bar
When the president asks, people listen — including some of the most powerful players in the tech industry. Here’s how tech execs and government leaders responded to the president’s request to raise the bar on cybersecurity, as reported by Reuters:
New Guidelines: The White House and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will work collaboratively with tech industry leaders to come up with new guidelines for securing software and technological innovations.
Investments From Large Companies: Industry leaders committed financial and service-based pledges to raise the bar:
Amazon will train individuals on cybersecurity free-of-charge.
Microsoft will invest $20 billion in cybersecurity over the next 5 years and help local, state, and federal governmental agencies keep their systems and networks secure.
Google will spend $10 billion on cybersecurity over the next 5 years and offer cybersecurity skills training to over 100,000 people.
IBM will train 150,000 people on cybersecurity, and focus on diversity and inclusion in the tech industry.
New Laws: Congress will work to create new laws that regulate the tech world, including new consumer protection laws and policy to regulate cybersecurity insurance companies.
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