Federal government races to address cybersecurity amid ransomware surges: 6 initiatives launched

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The federal government is racing to address cybersecurity as attacks on critical organizations, such as hospitals and fuel providers, increase. Here are six initiatives Becker's Hospital Review has covered in the last month, in the order they were reported.

  1. In April, the Justice Department formed a task force which will consist of the department's criminal, national security and civil divisions, the FBI, and the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, which supports the top 93 federal prosecutors in the country. The task force will develop concrete recommendations on how to address ransomware attacks, as well as taking aim at the infrastructure that supports the cybergang's ecosystem.

  2. The Department of Homeland Security made tackling ransomware attacks a prime focus in its first of several 60-day sprints to target the problem with the agency's resources. DHS's secretary said in a May 5 virtual conference hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, "The threat is real. The threat is upon us. The risk is to all of us."

  3. Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., the chair of the House Homeland Security cybersecurity subcommittee, said at her May 5 subcommittee hearing that ransomware attacks are a national security threat. Ms. Clarke will be reintroducing bipartisan legislation to provide local, state, tribal and federal governments with $500 million annually to combat cyberattacks.

  4. In response to the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack, the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency shared tips on May 12 with organizations on how to prevent disruption from ransomware attacks. The FBI and CISA have increasingly been warning companies of cyberattacks emerging and tips to mitigate attacks.

  5. After Colonial Pipeline was hit by a ransomware attack that halted its operations, it reportedly paid a $5 million ransom to the cybergang DarkSide. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., made a firm stance on paying ransoms when she told reporters May 13 that "the point is that we don't want people to think that there's money in it for them to threaten the security of a critical infrastructure in our country," the Hill reported.

  6. On May 14, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to modernize the nation's cybersecurity infrastructure and develop a concrete cyber-incident response plan. The executive order focuses on establishing baseline security requirements and creating a review board that will make concrete recommendations for improving cybersecurity moving forward.

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