The past year made it clear how many cyber challenges we face and how the threat landscape has evolved since the physical attacks on our country on 9/11. A raft of ransomware attacks has led to ransom demands as a condition for the decryption of data and to prevent its public release. Threat actors have successfully compromised digital and technology supply chains to launch large-scale attacks on governments and enterprises, impacting small businesses, local government, and hospitals. Attacks on critical infrastructure have also increased significantly over the past several years, leading to the compromise of water treatment plants, food processing facilities, and oil and gas infrastructure, which have dramatically increased the real-world impacts of cyber-attacks.

While the U.S. government has worked to respond to these emerging challenges, most notably through a Presidential Executive Order and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) release of advisories and mitigation guidance, there is more work to be done. The Executive Order and the executive actions it has already spurred will have some impact, but the government needs to further enhance its response to threat actors behind many of the recent attacks with a focus on nation-states. The Biden administration should also consider pushing for expanded international action and embracement of shared cyber norms that help protect critical infrastructure and limit the impact to everyday users.

Undoubtedly, the most high-profile story in cyber over the past year has been ransomware. The past year has seen an observed rise in ransomware attacks, impacting a broader cross-section of industry, including industrial production facilities and critical infrastructure. Even in instances where companies successfully defend against a ransomware attack, via backups for example, they still face the threat of data exfiltration and “double extortion,” where there is the demand for a ransom to prevent the release or sale of stolen data coupled with the initial decryption payment demand.

Attacks on critical infrastructure have had major downstream impacts, such as the impacts on gasoline availability on the East Coast following the Colonial Pipeline attack. In some instances, these attacks have compounded physical supply chain issues. The attack on JBS, a major meat processing company, led to temporary shortages intensified by COVID-19 related supply chain impacts. Similarly, attacks on major logistics firms, like CMA CGM, can have follow-on effects, impacting the supply of a wide variety of goods across an interconnected global supply chain.

Read more: HS Today