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March 2023 – On 01 March 2023, President Joe Biden launched the US National Cybersecurity Strategy. This release describes the digital challenges facing the United States in recent years and how they are acting on them. Interesting to see that protecting critical infrastructure is at the top of the US government’s cybersecurity priority list and is detailed in Chapter 1 as the first of the strategy’s five pillars. Now let’s hope this good example is followed by European countries….
Cybersecurity is essential for the functioning of our digital society, keeping our critical infrastructure operational, strengthening our democracy and democratic values, and safeguarding the privacy and data of our communications, as described in the document’s introduction.
Digital technology is increasingly impacting our way of life, often making our lives easier, but also posing increasing risks. The COVID-19 pandemic has even further accelerated our society towards the digital domain, and ‘next-generation interconnectivity’ has even caused the boundary between the physical and digital worlds to blur significantly and almost completely disappear. Our factories, energy supply companies, data centres, water treatment plants and other essential critical infrastructure are increasingly bringing their analogue process automation (Operational Engineering (OT)) systems online. Advanced wireless, IoT and space systems (‘space assets’), including military navigation systems, weather sensors and everyday other internet-based activities will even accelerate this trend, resulting in many essential systems being accessible online and thus digitally attackable. In the near future, these cyber attacks will be more frequent, more destructive and have a greater impact on our daily lives.
The new US cybersecurity strategy broadly describes that the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure is the highest priority, lists some minimum requirements and outlines how to bring this cyber resilience to the required level. What is striking here is the fact that this pillar of the strategy is broadly in line with the EU’s NIS2 Directive, and that can be seen as a good thing. The awareness is already there; now what is needed most of all is for governments and organisations to embrace and implement both the National Cybersecurity Strategy and the NIS2 Directive. Because only in this way can our digital society be and remain cyber resilient!