Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

10:00 AM
Eric Noonan
Eric Noonan

We Have a National Cybersecurity Emergency -- Here's How We Can Respond

Let's prioritize bipartisan strategic actions that can ensure our national security and strengthen the economy. Here are five ideas for how to do that.

US corporations are under attack, literally. 

The FireEye hack that came to light recently is the latest in a string of nation-state criminal intrusions against US corporations and agencies — from the Office of Personnel Management to Equifax to FireEye, and on and on. 

Related Content:

5 Key Takeaways From the SolarWinds Breach

Building an Effective Cybersecurity Incident Response Team

New From The Edge: XDR 101: What's the Big Deal About Extended Detection & Response?

But much of what we've seen — and will continue to see — in the days and weeks after these attacks follows a similar pattern. We see a race to uncover who was behind the latest infiltration and theft. Was it Russia, as seems likely? China? One of the other emerging nation-state threats to US national and cybersecurity? We see speculation on what the retaliation, if any, will entail. We see the victims of the breaches dragged before Congress for finger-pointing.  

Some of this is certainly important to know and to do, but it's not urgent. And ultimately, it's not relevant to the long-term solutions and actions we desperately need. What we should be consumed with instead is how to prevent future attacks. 

It sounds simple, but we're still not there yet. To be fair, the US government deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the progress made over the last decade in securing the cyber domain. Standards like the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) and recommendations from the Cybersecurity Solarium Commission are a good start and strong models to work from. But it's long past time to step on the gas and better protect US public and private corporations. 

Our focus should be the strategic actions we can take to reverse the increasingly emboldened actions of America's enemies. Let's prioritize bipartisan strategic actions that can reestablish American dominance and bolster our national security and economy. Here are five ideas for how to do that: 

1. Prioritize cybersecurity during the Biden administration's first 100 days. 
The incoming administration has a full slate of plans for its first 100 days, including combating COVID-19, reviving the economy, revamping foreign policy, and other actions on pressing issues. Cybersecurity should be on that list as another national emergency in need of swift action. 

Tighter cybersecurity not only deserves a place among the top priorities but also aids efforts to combat the pandemic, stabilize the economy, and forge stronger relationships with allies. It safeguards vaccine research, intellectual property, and state secrets. 

2. Stop victim shaming. 
The typical political response to a major security breach is to drag the affected parties before a dog and pony show of congressional committees, which wag their fingers and issue fines. How has that been working out? 

We need to stop the victim shaming and declare a national emergency around cybersecurity. Instead of piling on the companies breached, we should hold them to higher standards. Led by the Cyberspace Solarium Commission's recommendations, we could draw on the most effective public-private partnership to date between the Department of Defense (DoD) and the defense industrial base, efforts that led to stronger cybersecurity standards like CMMC and NIST 800-171. 

3. Prioritize public-private partnerships. 
Public-private partnerships are at the heart of any meaningful outcome, and getting regulatory requirements passed that actually make sense and can be implemented by industry is essential to long-term success. 

The Cyberspace Solarium Commission, a bipartisan effort to develop a strategic approach to defending against cyberattacks, specifically recommends assessing models of public-private collaboration. One very successful public-private partnership, between the DoD and its suppliers, recently announced "pathfinder" contracts for testing the CMMC approach to ensuring supply chain security. In light of recent attacks that exploited the DoD supply chain this effort is timely and promising.

4. New regulation — hear me out. 
I'm the last person to call for new regulation, but in this case it's absolutely necessary. Just as we probably wouldn't have seatbelts in cars if we didn't have legislation requiring it, private and public sector organizations are unlikely to enact cybersecurity protections to the level they need without being compelled to do so. 

The push for stronger cybersecurity standards has met pushback from lobbyists who are fighting against and picking holes in every legislative effort. Ahead of the CMMC taking effect, we've seen lobbyists complain about the costs and lack of clarity and predictability around the requirements. But the requirements were supposed to be implemented three years ago and DoD contractors were told about them five years ago. 

Lobbying efforts will persist. But the cost and unpredictability of inaction is far greater and far more damaging to national security and the economy. 

5. Invest in what works. 
As part of these efforts, we need to document what works and what doesn't. The government should provide the funding to fix open issues, accelerate progress, and extend the successful models like the CMMC that have worked for the DoD to the entire federal government using the existing construct. 

Enough is enough. It's time to get serious and take action to stop the endless barrage of breaches that will render irreparable damage to American innovation, prosperity, and security.   

Eric is CEO for CyberSheath Services International, LLC and is a respected cybersecurity expert having testified before the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities and served on the Council on Cyber Security expert panel to ... View Full Bio

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
[email protected],
User Rank: Author
1/5/2021 | 5:32:43 PM
Re: Solarwinds vs CMMC
What standard might have prevented these attacks is the wrong question. Seatbels don't prevent all head injuries but we still accept and enforce the regulatory requirement to have them in place. A part of value in enforcing mandatory minimums on the supply chain (CMMC) is to bring everyone up to a know state of defense so that information and intelligence sharing can happen in a way that is useful to all. Today, absent these minimums, there is no value in sharing because so many don't have the people, processes and technologies to do anything with the information. On the flip side the cost of not having these standards in place is measured in lost IP, political, military and economic advantage.
User Rank: Apprentice
12/29/2020 | 5:02:30 PM
Re: Solarwinds vs CMMC
Agreed, we need proof certain controls, devices, software, standards, etc actually work and prevent breaches. What Solarwindws and many big breaches recently have showed us is we dump billions into cyber security with no accountablity or proof a product is secure.  It's time for the Cyber Securiy grift and snake oil selling to stop.  
User Rank: Strategist
12/21/2020 | 7:30:00 PM
Solarwinds vs CMMC
The article makes several mentions of the value of CMMC and other standards.   Is there any evidence that fully meeting any of these standards would have protected any of the businesses affected?   Is anyone tracking whether other significant breaches could have prevented using the standards?  It is time to start measuring their cost versus value.
7 Old IT Things Every New InfoSec Pro Should Know
Joan Goodchild, Staff Editor,  4/20/2021
Cloud-Native Businesses Struggle With Security
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  5/6/2021
Defending Against Web Scraping Attacks
Rob Simon, Principal Security Consultant at TrustedSec,  5/7/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Take me to your BISO 
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-10
An information disclosure vulnerability exists in the /proc/pid/syscall functionality of Linux Kernel 5.1 Stable and 5.4.66. More specifically, this issue has been introduced in v5.1-rc4 (commit 631b7abacd02b88f4b0795c08b54ad4fc3e7c7c0) and is still present in v5.10-rc4, so it’s l...
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-10
Openapi generator is a java tool which allows generation of API client libraries (SDK generation), server stubs, documentation and configuration automatically given an OpenAPI Spec. openapi-generator-online creates insecure temporary folders with File.createTempFile during the code generation proces...
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-10
In InvoicePlane 1.5.11, the upload feature discloses the full path of the file upload directory.
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-10
An exploitable SQL injection vulnerability exists in ‘quickFile.jsp’ page of OpenClinic GA 5.173.3. A specially crafted HTTP request can lead to SQL injection. An attacker can make an authenticated HTTP request to trigger this vulnerability.
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-10
A number of exploitable SQL injection vulnerabilities exists in ‘patientslist.do’ page of OpenClinic GA 5.173.3 application. The findPersonID parameter in ‘‘patientslist.do’ page is vulnerable to authentic...