U.S. President Joe Biden today once again warned of the need to improve cybersecurity amid a warning that Russia may be exploring options for potential cyberattacks in response to sanctions placed on the country.
The president said in a statement that the administration has worked to strengthen national cybersecurity defense, including mandating extensive cybersecurity measures for the federal government and critical infrastructure sector where it has the authority to do so. The president added that as much the government would continue to use every tool to deter, disrupt and respond to cyberattacks, it cannot defend against the threat alone.
“Most of America’s critical infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector and critical infrastructure owners and operators must accelerate efforts to lock their digital doors,” the president said. “I urge our private sector partners to harden your cyber defenses immediately by implementing the best practices we have developed together over the last year.”
The details on any specific intelligence that Russia is about to launch attacks were vague. The fact sheet simply stated that “there is now evolving intelligence that Russia may be exploring options for potential cyberattacks.” Presumably, it’s referring to Russia launching a new cyberattack campaigns, since the Russian government, through state-sponsored hacking groups, has been hacking targets in the U.S. for years.
Companies are being asked to do their role in hardening protection through the use of multifactor authentication, deployment of modern security tools and working with cybersecurity professionals. Companies should also back up their data and ensure they have an offline backup, run services and drill emergency plans to respond to an attack and encrypt data so it cannot be used if stolen.
“This latest warning from the Biden administration is not a surprise following strict sanctions imposed by the U.S. on Russia and the country’s ongoing interest in American intelligence gathering,” Arti Raman, chief executive officer and founder of data protection and privacy platform provider Titaniam, told SiliconANGLE. “The administration’s advice encourages organizations to prepare for an onslaught of attacks by mandating the use of multifactor authentication, backups and data encryption, which we completely support.”
Raman warned that it’s not whether cyber adversaries will break into an organization’s systems, but when. “With Russian nation-state actors targeting government organizations, contractors and enterprises in highly regulated industries that house highly sensitive information, the right encryption technology could be the make or break factor in that data being compromised,” he said.
Danielle Jablanski, operational technology cybersecurity strategist at Nozomi Networks, noted that companies often focus risk mitigation on people, technologies, and processes in isolation, where threat actors exploit the transaction and interactions of information, data, credentials and privileges to hurt the integrity of operations.
“Specific medium-term measures include an immediate review of security policies – what needs more robust protection, to identify gaps where policy may be ignored or not enforced, and to back up data in a secondary place not attached to operational, real-time networks and operations,” Jablanski said.