On March 02, 2023, the Biden-Harris Administration unveiled the National Cybersecurity Plan to ensure that all Americans can enjoy the advantages of a secure digital environment. In this pivotal decade, the United States will reimagine cyberspace as a tool to achieve our goals in a way that is consistent with our values. These values include a commitment to economic security and prosperity, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, faith in our democracy and its institutions, and a commitment to creating a fair and diverse society. This goal cannot be achieved without a dramatic reorganisation of the United States’ cyberspace responsibilities, roles, and resources.
A more planned, organised, and well-resourced strategy to cyber protection is necessary for today’s rapidly developing world. State and non-state actors alike are launching creative new initiatives to challenge the United States. New avenues for innovation are opening up as next-generation technologies attain maturity and digital interdependencies are expanding. Thus, this Plan lays forth a plan to counter these dangers and protect the digital future. Putting it into effect can safeguard spending on things like infrastructure, clean energy, and the re-shoring of American industry.
The USA will create its digital environment by:
- Defensible if the cyber defence is comparatively easier, more effective, cheaper
- Resilient, where the impacts of cyberattacks and operator mistakes are lasting and little widespread.
- Values-aligned, where our most cherished values shape—and are in turn reinforced by— our digital world.
Already, the National Security Strategy, Executive Order 14028 (Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity), National Security Memorandum 5 (Improving Cybersecurity for Critical Infrastructure Control Systems), M-22-09 (Moving the U.S. Government Toward Zero-Trust Cybersecurity Principles), and National Security Memorandum 10 (Improving Cybersecurity for Federal Information Systems) have all been issued to help secure cyberspace and our digital ecosystem (Promoting United States Leadership in Quantum Computing While Mitigating Risks to Vulnerable Cryptographic Systems). The Strategy builds upon previous efforts by acknowledging that the Internet serves not as an end in itself but as a means to a goal—the achievement of our highest ideals.
There are five key points that constitute the National Cybersecurity Strategy:
- Defend Critical Infrastructure –
Defend critical infrastructure by, among other things: i) enacting cybersecurity regulations to secure essential infrastructure; (ii) boosting public-private sector collaboration; (iii) integrating federal cybersecurity centres; (iv) updating federal incident response plans and processes; and (v) modernising federal systems in accordance with zero trust principles.
- Disrupt and Dismantle Threat Actors
Disrupt and dismantle threat actors, including by i) integrating military, diplomatic, information, financial, intelligence, and law enforcement competence, (ii) strengthening public-private sector collaborations, (iii) increasing the speed and scale of intelligence sharing and victim information, (iv) preventing the abuse of U.S.-based infrastructure, and (v) increasing disruption campaigns and other endeavours against ransomware operators;
- Shape Market Forces to Drive Security and Resilience
The federal government can help shape market forces that drive security and resilience by doing the following: i) supporting legislative efforts to limit organisations’ ability to collect, use, transfer, and maintain personal information and providing strong protections for sensitive data (such as geolocation and health data), (ii) boosting IoT device security via federal research, development, sourcing, risk management efforts, and IoT security labelling programs, and (iii) instituting legislation establishing standards for the security of IoT devices. (iv) strengthening cybersecurity contract standards with government suppliers, (v) studying a federal cyber insurance framework, and (vi) using federal grants and other incentives to invest in efforts to secure critical infrastructure.
- Invest in a Resilient Future
Invest in a resilient future by doing things like i) securing the Internet’s underlying infrastructure, (ii) funding federal cybersecurity R&D in areas like artificial intelligence, cloud computing, telecommunications, and data analytics used in critical infrastructure, (iii) migrating vulnerable public networks and systems to quantum-resistant cryptography-based environments, and (iv) investing hardware and software systems that strengthen the resiliency, safety, and security of these areas, (v) enhancing and expanding the nation’s cyber workforce; and (vi) investing in verifiable, strong digital identity solutions that promote security, interoperability, and accessibility.
- Forge International Partnerships to Pursue Shared Goals
The United States should work with other countries to advance common interests, such as i) forming international coalitions to counter threats to the digital ecosystem; (ii) increasing the scope of U.S. assistance to allies and partners in strengthening cybersecurity; (iii) forming international coalitions to reinforce global norms of responsible state behaviour; and (v) securing global supply chains for information, communications, and operational technologies.
The Strategy results from months of work by the Office of the National Cyber Director (“ONCD”), the primary cybersecurity policy and strategy advisor to President Biden and coordinates cybersecurity engagement with business and international partners. The National Security Council will oversee the Strategy’s implementation through ONCD and the Office of Management and Budget.
In conclusion, we can say that the National Cybersecurity Plan of the Biden administration lays out an ambitious goal for American cybersecurity that is to be accomplished by the end of the decade. The administration aims to shift tasks and responsibilities to those organisations in the best position to safeguard systems and software and to encourage incentives for long-term investment in cybersecurity to build a more cyber-secure future.
It is impossible to assess the cyber strategy in a vacuum. It’s critical to consider the previous efforts and acknowledge the ones that still need to be made. The implementation specifics for several aspects of the approach are left up to a yet-to-be-written plan.
Given these difficulties, it would be simple to voice some pessimism at this stage regarding the next effort that will be required. Yet, the Biden administration has established a vision for cybersecurity oriented towards the future, with novel projects that could fundamentally alter how the United States handles and maintains cybersecurity. The Biden administration raised the bar for cybersecurity by outlining this robust plan, which will be challenging for succeeding administrations to let go. Also, it has alerted Congress to areas where it will need to act.
Author : Ms. Amisha Sah, Intern, CyberPeace Foundation