White House sounds alarm over Russian cybersecurity threat

The White House urged the private sector March 21 to harden its cyber defenses due to evolving intelligence that the Russian government may be exploring cyberattack options. 

"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," President Joe Biden said in a statement

The White House is urging the private sector to take the following steps:

1. Mandate multifactor authentication usage.

2. Use modern security tools on computers and devices to continuously look for and mitigate threats.  

3. Check with cybersecurity professionals to ensure all systems are patched against known vulnerabilities. Change passwords across networks so previously stolen credentials are useless. 

4. Back up data and ensure there are offline backups beyond the reach of malicious actors.

5. Run exercises and drill emergency plans to ensure a quick response to minimize any attack's impact.

6. Encrypt data.

7. Educate employees on common tactics attackers use over email or through websites. Encourage them to report if their computers have shown unusual behavior, such as crashes or are operating slowly.  

8. Establish a relationship with the local FBI field office or Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency regional office.

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