Has the Federal Government Done Enough to Strengthen National Cybersecurity?

When it comes to homeland defense, most people immediately think about the military. But what if the biggest threat to this nation’s safety and well-being has nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction or foreign militias? What if the biggest threat is invisible?

The State of Federal Cyber Security

The United States of America has been and continues to be a shining beacon of freedom throughout the world. Despite the whiny voices of millions of young people and radical left-wing activists who lack historical context to understand the incredible beauty and novelty of what we have in the U.S., we’re currently living in the most successful nation the world has ever seen. (In terms of wealth, freedom, and opportunity.) That’s a fact that’s rather hard to deny.

And guess what everyone else wants? A taste of what we have.

This leads adversaries, onlookers, and even certain “allies” to target our great nation. And one of the primary means of attack in the 21st century is via cyber channels. Yet up until recently, the nation’s cybersecurity infrastructure was soft and poorly-supported. (This is a clear strike against the previous administration -- but that’s an entirely different discussion.)

“America’s networks are threatened daily by criminals, terrorists, and foreign adversaries. In the face of growing threats, the federal government has the responsibility to do its part to ensure America has the best cybersecurity in the world,” writes Grant Schneider, Federal Chief Information Security Officer and Senior Director for Cybersecurity Policy under President Donald Trump. “Failures to prioritize cybersecurity by both government and industry have left our Nation less secure.”

In light of this, President Trump unveiled America’s new cybersecurity strategy in 2018 - the first one in more than 15 years.

“This Administration will not treat cyberspace as a separate arena. Instead, we are integrating cyber into all elements of national power,” Schneider continues. “Structuring the National Cyber Strategy around the four pillars of the National Security Strategy reflects and advances and this approach.”

According to the new National Cyber Strategy, the four pillars are as follows:

  1. Protect the American People, the Homeland, and the American Way of Life           

Cybersecurity risks will be managed in such a way that they increase the resilience of the nation’s various information systems. This is being done by taking steps to secure various federal networks and improve incident reporting.

  1. Promote American Prosperity

The objective is to preserve America’s influence in the technological ecosystem, pursue cyberspace development, and enhance efficiency at all touchpoints. This supports the digital economy and develops an elite cybersecurity workforce.

  1. Preserve Peace Through Strength

Cybersecurity is all about identifying, countering, disrupting, degrading, and deterring any cyberspace activities that run contrary to our national best interests. This is done by increasing knowledge of threats and responding with proactive defenses.

  1. Advance American Influence

The fourth pillar aims to preserve the “long-term openness, interoperability, security, and reliability of the internet,” which continues to support America’s best interests.

But this was just the start of the Trump administration’s focus on federal cybersecurity. He’s also moved the needle on grooming a talent-rich cyber workforce. Here are a few of the details:

  • President Trump has signed an Executive Order that encourages the creation of programs to grow and strengthen the cybersecurity workforce on an ongoing basis.
  • The administration has developed a rotational program that allows federal employees to expand cybersecurity skills and expertise through temporary reassignments.
  • The administration has established the Presidential Cybersecurity Education Awards, which recognize excellence in both elementary and secondary school educators who teach cybersecurity content to students.

As President Trump explains, “America built the internet and shared it with the world; now we will do our part to secure and preserve cyberspace for future generations.”

Practical Ways to Further Strengthen Federal Cybersecurity

Federal cybersecurity has improved by leaps and bounds over the past four years, but there’s still a long way to go. So without further ado, let’s explore some of the practical ways we can continue to improve our efforts and protect against hostile adversaries who want to compromise our freedoms through targeted attacks on our nation’s technological infrastructure.

  1. Educate and Empower

The federal government can only do so much. The power has been - and always will be with the American people. The more the government can do to educate and empower private businesses and individuals to strengthen their own individual cybersecurity efforts, the stronger the nation will be as a whole.

For example, an increased emphasis on firewalls and how they monitor and filter income and outgoing network traffic could do wonders for the security of individual businesses. The same goes for a focus on multi-factor authentication with social networking platforms and other services with large user bases.

  1. Hold Foreign Powers Accountable

Technology has changed so rapidly over the past few years that the international rules regarding cybersecurity are hazy and incomplete -- especially when it comes to cyberespionage. If the U.S. wants to do anything about this, it has to solidify ground rules and hold foreign powers accountable when they break them.

  1. Garner Support of Allies

Cyberspace transcends geographical borders, which means it can’t be controlled by any single nation or state. This increases the need for cooperation with allies and interests. Forming some sort of coalition with other countries could strengthen our own national security, while also improving international security in the process.

  1. Tap the Private Sector

Our nation’s most innovative work comes from the private sector. This is something the government needs to recognize and respect. Through government grants and sponsorships, it’s possible that Silicon Valley and techpreneurs could come together to create the next big wave of cybersecurity technology to benefit both the private and public sectors.

What Does the Future Hold?

While it feels like the internet is all we’ve ever known, the truth of the matter is that it’s still relatively young. In 25 or 30 years, we’ll look back at 2020 as still being in the “infancy stage” of the internet. And having said that, it’s impossible to know what the future might hold.

Cyberattacks and cyberdefenses have changed rather dramatically over just the past three to five years. Trying to project what will happen over the next decade is an impossible and foolish proposition. But we do know one thing: the government must continue to invest in national cybersecurity to protect our great country against dangerous external attacks that threaten to compromise the fabric of our nation.

When it comes to homeland defense, most people immediately think about the military. But what if the biggest threat to this nation’s safety and well-being has nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction or foreign militias? What if the biggest threat is invisible?

The State of Federal Cyber Security

The United States of America has been and continues to be a shining beacon of freedom throughout the world. Despite the whiny voices of millions of young people and radical left-wing activists who lack historical context to understand the incredible beauty and novelty of what we have in the U.S., we’re currently living in the most successful nation the world has ever seen. (In terms of wealth, freedom, and opportunity.) That’s a fact that’s rather hard to deny.

And guess what everyone else wants? A taste of what we have.

This leads adversaries, onlookers, and even certain “allies” to target our great nation. And one of the primary means of attack in the 21st century is via cyber channels. Yet up until recently, the nation’s cybersecurity infrastructure was soft and poorly-supported. (This is a clear strike against the previous administration -- but that’s an entirely different discussion.)

“America’s networks are threatened daily by criminals, terrorists, and foreign adversaries. In the face of growing threats, the federal government has the responsibility to do its part to ensure America has the best cybersecurity in the world,” writes Grant Schneider, Federal Chief Information Security Officer and Senior Director for Cybersecurity Policy under President Donald Trump. “Failures to prioritize cybersecurity by both government and industry have left our Nation less secure.”

In light of this, President Trump unveiled America’s new cybersecurity strategy in 2018 - the first one in more than 15 years.

“This Administration will not treat cyberspace as a separate arena. Instead, we are integrating cyber into all elements of national power,” Schneider continues. “Structuring the National Cyber Strategy around the four pillars of the National Security Strategy reflects and advances and this approach.”

According to the new National Cyber Strategy, the four pillars are as follows:

  1. Protect the American People, the Homeland, and the American Way of Life           

Cybersecurity risks will be managed in such a way that they increase the resilience of the nation’s various information systems. This is being done by taking steps to secure various federal networks and improve incident reporting.

  1. Promote American Prosperity

The objective is to preserve America’s influence in the technological ecosystem, pursue cyberspace development, and enhance efficiency at all touchpoints. This supports the digital economy and develops an elite cybersecurity workforce.

  1. Preserve Peace Through Strength

Cybersecurity is all about identifying, countering, disrupting, degrading, and deterring any cyberspace activities that run contrary to our national best interests. This is done by increasing knowledge of threats and responding with proactive defenses.

  1. Advance American Influence

The fourth pillar aims to preserve the “long-term openness, interoperability, security, and reliability of the internet,” which continues to support America’s best interests.

But this was just the start of the Trump administration’s focus on federal cybersecurity. He’s also moved the needle on grooming a talent-rich cyber workforce. Here are a few of the details:

  • President Trump has signed an Executive Order that encourages the creation of programs to grow and strengthen the cybersecurity workforce on an ongoing basis.
  • The administration has developed a rotational program that allows federal employees to expand cybersecurity skills and expertise through temporary reassignments.
  • The administration has established the Presidential Cybersecurity Education Awards, which recognize excellence in both elementary and secondary school educators who teach cybersecurity content to students.

As President Trump explains, “America built the internet and shared it with the world; now we will do our part to secure and preserve cyberspace for future generations.”

Practical Ways to Further Strengthen Federal Cybersecurity

Federal cybersecurity has improved by leaps and bounds over the past four years, but there’s still a long way to go. So without further ado, let’s explore some of the practical ways we can continue to improve our efforts and protect against hostile adversaries who want to compromise our freedoms through targeted attacks on our nation’s technological infrastructure.

  1. Educate and Empower

The federal government can only do so much. The power has been - and always will be with the American people. The more the government can do to educate and empower private businesses and individuals to strengthen their own individual cybersecurity efforts, the stronger the nation will be as a whole.

For example, an increased emphasis on firewalls and how they monitor and filter income and outgoing network traffic could do wonders for the security of individual businesses. The same goes for a focus on multi-factor authentication with social networking platforms and other services with large user bases.

  1. Hold Foreign Powers Accountable

Technology has changed so rapidly over the past few years that the international rules regarding cybersecurity are hazy and incomplete -- especially when it comes to cyberespionage. If the U.S. wants to do anything about this, it has to solidify ground rules and hold foreign powers accountable when they break them.

  1. Garner Support of Allies

Cyberspace transcends geographical borders, which means it can’t be controlled by any single nation or state. This increases the need for cooperation with allies and interests. Forming some sort of coalition with other countries could strengthen our own national security, while also improving international security in the process.

  1. Tap the Private Sector

Our nation’s most innovative work comes from the private sector. This is something the government needs to recognize and respect. Through government grants and sponsorships, it’s possible that Silicon Valley and techpreneurs could come together to create the next big wave of cybersecurity technology to benefit both the private and public sectors.

What Does the Future Hold?

While it feels like the internet is all we’ve ever known, the truth of the matter is that it’s still relatively young. In 25 or 30 years, we’ll look back at 2020 as still being in the “infancy stage” of the internet. And having said that, it’s impossible to know what the future might hold.

Cyberattacks and cyberdefenses have changed rather dramatically over just the past three to five years. Trying to project what will happen over the next decade is an impossible and foolish proposition. But we do know one thing: the government must continue to invest in national cybersecurity to protect our great country against dangerous external attacks that threaten to compromise the fabric of our nation.