The U.S. Government is about to implement a new approach for protecting critical infrastructure. U.S. Cyber Command will soon be teaming up with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to improve the country’s cybersecurity capabilities.
Lt. Gen. James McLaughlin, Cyber Command’s deputy commander, shared some details in a story from Federal Computer Week:
“We’re still fleshing out [how to protect critical infrastructure providers from] attacks of significant consequence,” said Lt. Gen. James McLaughlin, Cyber Command’s deputy commander, at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference on Sept. 20… “DHS is the lead for defending .gov” and critical infrastructure networks, and we share information and intelligence with DHS and the National Security Agency.”
McLaughlin also told FCW that a significant attack against critical infrastructure, especially from another nation-state, could warrant a broader, more coordinated U.S. response. The FBI and DHS would continue to take the lead on relatively lower level attacks on civilian networks.
McLaughlin said the command can augment DHS’ existing expertise. He did note that the decision for Cyber Command to step in would be made at the highest levels of government. But Cyber Command is ready to support other agencies.
“Our core skill set for DOD translates to other environments,” he said.
Given the scale on ongoing cyber attacks, McLaughlin predicted an attack with significant consequences is increasingly likely. So as to not give potential adversaries any useful information, he did not elaborate on exactly how Cyber Command would coordinate with DHS in response to a large big attack on critical infrastructure.
McLaughlin also said Cyber Command has been coordinating with critical infrastructure providers through a series of exercises. The Cyber Guard 16 simulation this summer involved a broad cyber attack on not just government but also academia, industry and U.S. allies. Cyber Command, DHS and the FBI led the exercise, which resulted in valuable insights into areas of vulnerability.
In today’s cybersecurity environment, it simply makes sense for Cyber Command and DHS to work more closely together. The information sharing and coordination described by Gen. McLaughlin is welcome news for all government networks and databases.