Cybersecurity has continued to be a major concern to both the American government and the private sector in light of a seemingly never-ending string of incidents.
Recently, the sobering reality regarding the disruptive and hazardous potential of cyber-threats has compelled the Senate to pass a bill designating a new agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as the main entity overseeing these matters in America. The importance of the bill cannot be understated in an age where public infrastructure and businesses are transitioning to digital platforms. However, whether or not this new legislation's directive will actually be successful in defending the country from cyber-attacks is still up for debate.
The new bill, named The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act of 2017, was approved by congress on October 3, 2018. Within the DHS, the new department will be responsible for elevating and executing the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD). CISA’s director will be former NPPD undersecretary Chris Krebs.
CISA’s role will be of critical importance to the protection of other federal agencies and critical infrastructure from cyber-threats. The agency will also assist the private sector in matters related to cybersecurity. To tackle these new responsibilities, CISA, will be organized into three divisions: Cyber Security division, Infrastructure Security Division, and Emergency Communications Division.
The creation of a dedicated cyber security department could not have come at a better time. There have been numerous cyber campaigns by foreign actors attempting to undermine the American political system. A notable example of this includes the phishing campaign led by Russian-affiliated actors targeting conservative politicians and think tanks. Another examples of this include disinformation campaigns carried out by state-affiliated actors on social media platforms with the goal of swaying public opinion.
How effective the new agency will actually be in carrying out its mission is still unclear. According to a column written last month by former CIA director David H. Petraeus for Politico, one of the limitations CISA will face is the fact that it is an agency within the DHS instead of being an independent entity. In the piece Petraeus writes, “A standalone agency would be much more focused, capable and empowered than the current grab bag of governmental initiatives.”
Another issue CISA will possibly face is a lack of appropriate funding and talent acquisition. It is still unclear how the conversion of the NPPD to CISA will affect its funding. An amendment to the bill states, “that no additional funds are authorized to carry out the bill’s requirements; the requirements will only be carried only using authorized amounts.”
Adequate funding for the agency will obviously be critical to its ability to carry out its mission. Because technology advances at such a fast pace, the agency will have to place a good amount of resources in R&D to create tools to counteract ever-changing cyber-threats.
Lastly, CISA will have to recruit talented individuals in the cybersecurity field. The agency will need to develop cutting-edge technology for cyber defense while working with budgetary restrictions. This could pose a challenge considering how competitive the market for cybersecurity professionals is. Although the creation of a new department within DHS focused on cybersecurity will surely attract capable professionals, they will still be competing with companies in the private sector which offer higher salaries.
The creation of CISA was based on the government’s increased awareness of how cyber threats jeopardize not only our critical infrastructures, but our democratic system as a whole. Many pressing malware threats have been found to come from foreign entities, such as the computer infection TDSS Rootkit, whose creators are thought to be from the Russian federation. The passing of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act of 2017 shows this administration's intent on taking a proactive stance on cybersecurity instead of reacting to threats as they appear. Only time will tell how effective the agency will be in this regard.
Julio Rivera is a small business consultant, political activist, writer and Editorial Director for Reactionary Times. He has been a regular contributor to Newsmax TV and columnist for Newsmax.com since 2016. His writing, which is concentrated on politics, cybersecurity and sports, has also been published by websites including The Hill, The Washington Times, LifeZette, The Washington Examiner, American Thinker, The Toronto Sun and PJ Media and many others. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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