Skip Navigation

Critical Infrastructure News

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will award $8 billion in grants to keep U.S. airport workers employed, construction projects going and help U.S. airports recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding for the grants comes from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 President Biden signed into law on March 11, 2021.

“The Airport Rescue Grants keep workers employed and help the aviation sector recover as more Americans get vaccinated and begin traveling again,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “These grants are part of the Administration’s commitment to build back a better and safer transportation system throughout our country.”

The funding provides economic relief to eligible commercial service, reliever, and general aviation airports. The money will help keep people safe and employed by reimbursing operational expenses, debt service payments, and costs related to combating the spread of pathogens at the airport. Airports can also use the money to provide rent relief to in-terminal retail and concession companies. The funding requires that airports continue to employ at least 90 percent of their pre-pandemic employees for those airports that cover a majority of the traveling public.

Read more: Security Mag

A new report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) shows that cybersecurity and cyber policies have moved to the forefront of the international landscape. And, despite a somewhat shaky 12 months, the United States remains the most “cyber-capable” nation, according to the think tank.

The U.S. was ranked as having the greatest cyber capabilities in over seven categories and is expected to remain atop the leaderboard for at least the next ten years because of the “likely durability of US digital-industrial superiority,” said the IISS report.

Meanwhile, China is the only country that the report deemed to be on the path to joining the first tier. The think tank believes that the future balance of cyber power will likely result from the U.S. restricting China’s access to Western technologies and China’s response. This power dynamic started in the early 2000s when the U.S. and several of its allies started to restrict China. IISS noted that this “partial decoupling” of the West and China points to potential obstacles in China’s path towards cyber power. Sanctions on China were made in response to China’s “malicious behavior” in cyberspace, which could explain why the country is only in the beginning development stages for cyber defenses and cyber-resilience policies for infrastructure.

Read more: HSToday

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will resume self-defense classes for flight attendants and pilots after not having the training for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The classes come as the airlines deal with a surge in cases of unruly passengers and violent behavior on flights.

With unruly passenger incidents on the rise, TSA remains committed to equip flight crews with another tool to keep crews safe, according to its statement. 

The Federal Aviation Administration has documented 3,082 reports of unruly passengers on flights this year, and a majority of those have been tied to mask disputes, according to the New York Times. The FAA has initiated investigations into 487 of the cases so far this year which allots to more than triple the number of investigations in the 12 months of 2019.

Read more: Security Magazine

In the wake of the Colonial Pipeline and JBS ransomware attacks in recent months, the head of the nation's leading cybersecurity agency says these events are a harbinger of what's to come on the cyber front and there needs to be a greater focus on shoring up the defenses of America's most important assets.

"Both of those incidents highlight the actual real world consequences of cyber incidents, targeting our critical infrastructure. And while today those attacks have impacted Americans at the gas pump and at the supermarkets, our concern is where could this go next," Brandon Wales, the current acting director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, told CNN's Pamela Brown in an interview.

While attacks like the ones on JBS and Colonial Pipeline are not new, they have increased in recent years, according to Wales, and they're bolder than ever -- leading criminal attackers to look for bigger targets for more ransom money, including targets that have real world consequences.

Read more: CNN

The Defense Department said it will need at least $1 billion over the next five years to strengthen its stockpile of critical materials.

The recommendation comes from a report mandated by the White House that looked at supply chain issues at DoD, the Commerce Department, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Energy Department.

The Pentagon concluded that many of its supply chains for rare earth minerals and other strategic resources are at risk.

“These supply chains are at serious risk of disruption and are rife with political intervention and distortionary trade practices,” the authors of the report wrote. “Though the Department of Defense has requirements for strategic and critical materials, the civilian economy would bear the brunt of the harm from a supply disruption event.”

Read more: Federal News Network