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What’s This About Cybersecurity in the Defense Bill?

Introduction

The National Defense Authorization Act passed in December. It is an annual defense bill underlining which areas of growth our national security should focus in the year to come.

This time, Congress cleared $768B in a bipartisan vote. The NDAA covers a wide range of new defense protocols, but more specifically, it includes multiple addresses about upgrading computer security and strengthening the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

Protecting Critical Infrastructure

National cybersecurity experts monitor the information and operational technology (IT and OT) networks in critical infrastructure partners, referring to private and public sector connections that are tasked with providing infosec and cybersecurity services to the nation. Thus expanding the capabilities of this crucial group by providing more resources to research and develop solutions will directly improve how well we defend high-level systems from cyberattacks.

Part of the bill’s solution to broadening and bolstering CISA is the creation of the CyberSentry Program. Aimed at providing critical infrastructure with the best available equipment to monitor and detect attempted breaches, the voluntary pilot program provides visibility, analysis and better detection into malicious activity on critical networks.

Focusing on Cybersecurity

The NDAA places more weight on preventative measures, like strengthening their cybersecurity landscape. This is very telling what about the future of online protection holds and where the road of innovation will direct us next. Understanding the dangers associated with malicious activity prompts people to want to take early action. That means concerting more effort toward blocking bad actors from sneaking onto your network in the first place.

There was plenty of insight to be had from the supply chain attack on SolarWinds that occurred last year, after an update to the software went live. The culprit most likely gained backdoor access by password spraying, which resulted in some of the worst damages from a supply chain attack in recent history. Thereafter, stopping breaches before they happened become paramount concern, and the NDAA addresses some of the most prevalent vulnerabilities that need stronger cybersecurity.

What the Bill Is Missing

The window closed on a notable would-be addendum that required providers to report cyber incidents within 72 hours of discovering the malicious activity. Along those lines, payments made during a ransomware attack would have had to be reported within a day. This transparency would have affected scandals like the one that occurred with Uber in 2016, where they paid hackers to delete stolen data and this wasn’t uncovered for a year; in that case, they would have had to report it straight away instead.

Regardless of this absence, the NDAA covers a lot of ground where cybersecurity was previously lacking. The importance of critical infrastructure partners cannot be overstated, so catching threats as soon as they attempt a breach protects those who protect the nation.

Conclusion

The cybersecurity measures and resources outlined in the National Defense Authorization Act are huge steps forward for the industry as a whole, as well as shoring up protections for the United States. Making tech more available will spur innovation in the private sector too, creating new ways for every business, no matter their size, to protect themselves from cyber risks. Expect to see even greater emphasis and reliance on cybersecurity in 2022, as part and in consequence of the NDAA.

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