When it comes to cybersecurity, experts expect a number of important policy changes from the previous administration. Just what changes in cybersecurity policy are we likely to see from the new administration?
Take Cybersecurity More Seriously
One important change is that the Biden administration is expected to take cybersecurity much more seriously than did the Trump administration. Biden has already called cybersecurity a “top priority” and signaled a much stronger response than his predecessor to important cybersecurity issues. Experts say the new administration is expected to increase funding for cybersecurity research and development. Investment in other IT and computing technologies is also likely.
Build on What Works
Part of the Biden administration’s cybersecurity strategy is to keep what was working in the Trump administration and build on it. This is likely to include the 2018 order that authorized the U.S. Cyber Command to engage in cyberattacks without prior presidential permission. Biden is also expected to continue support for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA), created as a standalone agency under the Department of Homeland Security to focus on cybersecurity issues across the federal government. It is anticipated that Biden will nominate Jen Easterly, an experienced hand who formerly served as deputy director for counterterrorism at the National Security Agency, to head the CISA.
Restore the Cybersecurity Structure
Biden is also likely to reverse some of the decisions made by the Trump administration regarding cybersecurity. In particular, the Biden administration is set to restore some of the cybersecurity structure that was eliminated or downsized during the previous administration and give the White House a larger role in coordinating the nation’s cybersecurity policy.
Update the National Cybersecurity Policy
Speaking of that cybersecurity strategy, the Biden administration is expected to update the current outdated U.S. National Cyber Strategy. Biden’s new strategy is likely to emphasize collaboration between the public and private sectors, layered deterrence, and the concept of “defend forward,” which prioritizes proactive cyber activities to discourage potential adversaries.
Focus on Election Security
The previous administration, for whatever reasons, downplayed the importance of election security. The Biden administration, in contrast, is set to emphasize securing the nation’s elections and focus on the use of cybersecurity to do so. The focus will be on deterring any attacks on the election process by powers either foreign or domestic.
Part of this focus will involve seeking more funds for election security and infrastructure. The Biden administration is also expected to require states and counties that receive federal election funds to follow mandated cybersecurity procedures, thus strengthening the country’s cybersecurity defenses.
Get Tough with Russia
When it comes to election interference, the number-one suspect is Russia. President Trump repeatedly denied Russia’s role in attacking U.S. elections, despite substantial evidence to the contrary presented by other officials in the administration. The Biden administration more readily recognizes the Russian threat and has already sanctioned Russia for its interference in the 2020 elections.
Biden is likely to exert even more pressure on Russia, particularly in response to continuing cyberattacks from that country. This new aggressive tone is also designed to discourage Russian interference in future U.S. elections. Biden has signaled that he will treat any foreign election interference as an “adversarial act” that will have a direct impact on the relationship between the U.S. and the countries involved.
Provide More Cybersecurity Funds for States
The Biden administration’s cybersecurity focus isn’t strictly on foreign threats. The new administration is expected to ask for funds to help state and local governments beef up their cybersecurity operations. This could especially help local governments protect against a recent rise in ransomware attacks.
Recruit New Cybersecurity Talent
Finally, the Biden administration recognizes the need to strengthen the country’s cybersecurity workforce, both in the government and in the private sector. According to the (ISC)2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study, there are more than 350,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the United States today. The job shortage is even more acute for government cybersecurity jobs, since working for the government has traditionally proven less lucrative than taking similar jobs in the private sector.
The Biden administration needs to increase funds for training and recruitment to help fill these critical positions. Otherwise, the country risks falling further behind in its cybersecurity defense.
Wickr: For Enhanced Communications Security
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