While most of the world is focused on preventing the spread of Covid-19, there’s another looming catastrophe almost certain to happen: cyberattacks.
A new government report on cybersecurity, “A Warning from Tomorrow,” asserts the nation is seriously underprepared for cyberattacks and is calling for the creation of a federally-funded center to develop cybersecurity insurance certifications and a public-private partnership on cyber risk models.
“Our country is at risk, not only from a catastrophic cyberattack but from millions of daily intrusions disrupting everything from financial transactions to the inner workings of our electoral system,” says the report from the Cyberspace Solarium Commission.
The commission advocates a strategic approach to cybersecurity that it refers to as “layered cyber deterrence,” which has the goal of a “reduced probability and impact of cyberattacks of significant consequence.”
It organizes its proposals around what it calls six pillars: reforming the U.S. government’s structure and organization for cyberspace; strengthening norms and non-military tools; promoting national resilience; reshaping the cyber ecosystem; operationalizing cybersecurity cooperation with the private sector; and preserving and employing the military instrument of national power.
According to the report, the country is “dangerously insecure in cyber” and increasingly relies on networks of digital devices that are vulnerable, if not already compromised.
“The status quo is inviting attacks on America every second of every day. The status quo is a slow surrender of American power and responsibility,” the report says.
The commission says the government needs to step in because the insurance industry is failing to provide financial incentives for better cyber risk management.
The commission says the country has lost hundreds of billions of dollars to nation-state-sponsored intellectual property theft using cyber espionage, and that a major cyberattack on the nation’s critical infrastructure and economic system would “create chaos and lasting damage exceeding that wreaked by fires in California, floods in the Midwest, and hurricanes in the Southeast.”
The bipartisan commission was established by the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) and Representative Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin) are co-chairs. Its members include cyber experts, private sector representatives, members of Congress and senior government officials. These “strategists, technologists, economists and policymakers” were charged with coming up with a comprehensive strategy for how the United States should defend itself.
In addition to its insurance proposals, the commission also recommends a new cybersecurity bureau in the State Department and a national data privacy protection law. Another recommendation is that the government institute an economic continuity plan for after a catastrophic cyberattack. It calls for cloud security certification or modernizing corporate accountability reporting requirements, and emphasizes a need for steps to secure elections from foreign intervention. The commission members urged the public to demand that government and private sector leaders “act with speed and agility” to address cybersecurity.
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