Cybersecurity for U.S. critical infrastructure a ‘national-security imperative'

Protecting U.S. critical infrastructure from the often-debilitating impacts of cyberattacks is a “national imperative” that will require cooperation between the government and private sector, according to Brian Scott, director of critical-infrastructure cybersecurity for the National Security Council (NSC).
Scott said variety of sources—nation-states, state-sponsored actors and cybercriminals—are responsible for the cyberattacks, and many of the impacts have been significant, as recent events have reinforced. Indeed, more than 18,000 entities were deemed vulnerable during the SolarWinds attacks first announced in December, and a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline resulted in the shutdown of more than 11,000 gas stations in the southeast U.S., he said.
“Public and private entities are increasingly under constant, sophisticated, malicious and often-unseen probing and attacks from nation-state adversaries and criminals,” Scott said last week during the “Cyber Defenders” online event hosted by Nextgov. “Today more than ever, cybersecurity is a national-security imperative.
“Adversaries and malicious cyber actors see U.S. government and U.S. commercial networks as particularly rich targets and are aggressively working to compromise them.”
Beyond the SolarWinds and Colonial Pipeline incidents, Scott cited compromises to Microsoft Exchange Servers and Pulse Secure VPNs as examples of the challenges facing public and private U.S. entities in an increasingly treacherous cyber environment.
Meanwhile, ransomware attacks last year generated average demands of more than $100,00, with the top ransom demands exceeding $10 million, Scott. And a 2019 study estimated that data breaches cost the company experiencing one an average of $13 million, as well as significant intellectual-property losses.
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