US Teams Up with Companies to Defend Critical Infrastructure

The United States government is teaming up with leaders in technology, cybersecurity and communications to protect the nation's critical infrastructure from cyber-attacks. 

Under a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) initiative named the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative (JCDC), key players in the tech field will weigh in to defend against cyber-threats such as ransomware. 

News of the JCDC was first reported earlier today by The Wall Street Journal. The publication said that the collaboration was launched to "improve defense planning and information sharing."

Companies known to have flocked to the Department's banner include tech leviathans Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, and cyber-warriors CrowdStrike, FireEye, and Palo Alto Networks.

Communications companies AT&T, Lumen Technologies, and Verizon have also answered the Department's figurative call to arms. 

Director of the DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Jen Easterly, said getting everyone around the table now would make the US better prepared to handle future cyber-offensives.

She said that the creation of the JCDC "will uniquely bring people together in peacetime, so that we can plan for how we’re going to respond in wartime."

The formation of the initiative follows in the digital footsteps of several widely reported cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure in the US in recent months, most notably the ransomware strikes impacting Colonial Pipeline and JBS.

Attacks on critical infrastructure in the US are nothing new, however, with perhaps the earliest incident being the hacking of Marconi's wireless telegraph presentation with Morse code in 1903.

Describing what lessons can be learned from the JBS and Colonial Pipeline incidents, Eric Haseltine, chairman of the board at US Technology Leadership Council, said: "The number one lesson is that there is no such thing as 100% security." 

He added: "That's a really important insight from what happened because it should completely change the philosophical point of view on cybersecurity from trying to keep everything out, to assuming that you have been penetrated and proceeding accordingly."

Michael Brown, rear admiral, USN (Retired), and founder and president of Spinnaker Security, said one way to defend critical infrastructure was to make it an unappealing target to attackers.

He said: "Make it costly; make it more expensive either in time or resources for the bad guys to attack you."

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