July 13 (UPI) — The White House on Thursday released a national strategy to address cybersecurity as the administration was investigating a major hacking incident that compromised unclassified emails at the Commerce and State departments in May.
The National Cybersecurity Strategy seeks to make two fundamental changes in the government’s digital security protocols, including a plan to enlist more help from the private sector to mitigate cyber risks, and a program to boost federal incentives to companies that make long-term investments in cybersecurity, the White House said.
The plan, which includes more than 65 initiatives, will be updated every year in an effort to protect critical U.S. infrastructure and shore up the country’s growing technology and manufacturing base, the White House said.
The new policies were announced a day after the departments of State and Commerce confirmed hackers breached their email systems during a May cyberattack that targeted government agencies in Europe and the United States, but went unnoticed for at least a month.
The breach, discovered on June 16, targeted nine U.S. organizations among 25 global entities, while also ensnaring the emails of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo through cracks in Microsoft’s cloud security system.
The White House did not indicate whether Biden had put forth the new policies in response to the episode.
The plan also seeks to go after perpetrators of ransomware attacks and other cybercrimes, while increasing software transparency, which would raise accountability on tech suppliers around the world.
The State Department plans to release an International Cyberspace and Digital Policy Strategy that will seek further cooperation from global allies on the matter.
The plan calls for creating a cyber-defense workforce as merited by an economy that is becoming increasingly digital.
The initiative demonstrates the administration’s “deep commitment to a more resilient, equitable, and defensible cyberspace,” the White House said.
Kemba Walden, the acting Office of the National Cyber Director, has been tapped to coordinate activities under the plan, which include an annual report to Congress and President Joe Biden on the status of the rollout.
She will work with the Office of Management and Budget to ensure cybersecurity funding in Biden’s budget request is aligned with the every aspect of the new initiative.
In the coming months, Walden is expected to release recommendations for new cybersecurity policies and regulations.
Funding for the program is provided through Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, CHIPS and Science Act, and Inflation Reduction Act.
Biden has set deadlines for 18 government agencies to complete the program’s implementation, while the president was also planning to make cybersecurity a major feature of his upcoming fiscal budget.
The momentum on cybersecurity has been building for months as the Defense Department sent its 2023 Cyber Strategy to Congress in May, while the Justice Department launched a new National Security Cyber unit in June.