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Cybersecurity

Congressional Witnesses Say Lack of Agency Resources is Holding Back Government Cybersecurity Efforts

House Freedom Caucus Rep. Scott Perry calls GOP supporters of the bipartisan infrastructure measure “socialist-voting members.”

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Photo of House committee Chairman Peter DeFazio from May 2014 by Theresa Hogue used with permission

WASHINGTON, December 3, 2021 – Representatives of federal agencies tasked with overseeing the nation’s infrastructure systems told the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that their efforts to safeguard national cybersecurity are hampered by a lack of funding for their agencies.

The committee called on testimony from the Transportation Department, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Transportation Security Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Government Accountability Office in the second part of a two-hearing series on infrastructure cybersecurity following a year that saw the number of high profile cyberattacks increase.

The TSA has recently proposed cybersecurity mandates for the transportation industry, only to face significant blow back from key leaders in transportation.

Throughout the hearing Thursday as lawmakers presented agency representatives with proposals to improve federal cybersecurity efforts, the agency representatives frequently cited a lack of resources as preventing them from executing such changes in cyber policy.

Lawmakers find uncertainty for success of proposals

Lawmakers’ questions touched on a wide variety of infrastructure issues.

Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., raised concerns over the usage of C-band interfering with aircraft. The topic has been in the spotlight as C-band use increases with 5G rollout, and the aviation industry has continually requested delays in 5G deployment despite telecom companies already having set back their release dates.

The FAA’s representative at the hearing, chief information security officer Larry Grossman, stated that the FAA believes C-band can safely coexist with aviation, and that further information on the matter was being gathered by both the FCC and the FAA.

Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-Calif., stated examples of breaches in the nation’s water supply systems and recommended virtual cybersecurity training for the employees who oversee those systems.

Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., emphasized that cybersecurity challenges had held up disbursement of emergency government COVID-19 stimulus, creating delays that he said many Americans could not afford. He pointed to the slow pace of cybersecurity solution implementation as a major contributor to these delays.

In one of the day’s more politicized lines of questioning, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., asked what was being done to counter what he considered cybersecurity threats specific to electric buses such as lighting fires. In his questioning, he condemned the Republicans who voted for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which contains an electric vehicles provision, as “some socialist-voting members.”

Photo of the hearing

The GAO’s representative, director of information technology and cybersecurity Nick Marinos, responded that whether they are gas or electric powered, vehicles are seeing increased potential for hacks.

Like Rep. Napolitano, committee chairman Rep. Peter DeFazio, who recently announced this would be his last term in Congress, said cybersecurity training should be mandated for companies overseeing infrastructure. He emphasized that just before it was hacked, Colonial Pipeline turned down an audit that was offered to it, and that should the audit have taken place the hack may have been prevented.

Additional legislation concerning these hacks has been pushed recently in the House, such as a mandate for quick reporting to the government when companies are hacked.

Reporter T.J. York received his degree in political science from the University of Southern California. He has experience working for elected officials and in campaign research. He is interested in the effects of politics in the tech sector.

Cybersecurity

CES 2023: Consumers Need to Understand Personal Cybersecurity, Says White House Cyber Official

Consumers must better understand how to weigh risks and protect themselves in the digital world, said Camille Stewart Gloster.

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Photo of John Mitchell, Tobin Richardson, Amit Elazari, and Camille Stewart Gloster (left to right)

LAS VEGAS, January 7, 2023 – In addition to building a more robust cybersecurity workforce, policymakers should consider consumer education, said Camille Stewart Gloster, deputy national cyber director for technology and ecosystem for the White House, speaking Saturday at the Consumer Electronics Show.

CES 2023 has featured numerous discussions of cybersecurity in sectors ranging from transportation to Internet of Things home devices. On Thursday, an official from the Department of Homeland Security argued that manufactures should design and pre-configure devices to be secure, thus reducing the security burden on consumers.

For their own protection, consumers must better understand how to weigh risks and protect themselves in the digital world, Stewart Gloster said Saturday. “The sooner that people understand that their physical security and digital security are inextricably linked the better,” she argued. According to the panel’s moderator, Consumer Technology Association senior manager for government affairs John Mitchell, 82 percent of data breaches in 2021 involved “the human element, stolen credentials, phishing, misuse.”

Stewart Gloster’s team is working on a national cyber-workforce and education strategy, she said, which will address the federal cyber workforce, the national cyber workforce, cyber education, and “digital safety awareness.”

Stewart Gloster said workforce initiatives should promote the participation of “people of a diverse set of backgrounds who are highly skilled and multidisciplinary who can take a look at the problem space, who can apply their lived experiences, apply the things they’ve observed, apply their academic backgrounds to a challenging and ever evolving landscape.”

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Cybersecurity

CES 2023: Cybersecurity for IoT Devices Should be Market-Driven

NIST’s cybersecurity guidelines for IoT prescribe desired outcomes, rather than specific and ‘brittle’ standards.

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Michael Bergman (left) and Katerina Megas

LAS VEGAS, January 6, 2023 – Cybersecurity protocols for Internet of Things devices should be industry-driven, Katerina Megas, program manager of the Cybersecurity for Internet of Things Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, said Friday at the Consumer Electronics Show 2023.

The popularization of IoT devices gives cyber-criminals increasing opportunities to breach networks, many say. Network-connected household devices – e.g., lightbulbs and home security devices – can be entry-points if security protocols are lacking. On CES panel on Thursday, a cybersecurity official at the Department of Homeland Security argued that manufacturers should design and preset devices to be safe, shifting much of the burden from the consumer.

“For a long-term, sustainable solution, the best approach really is for demand to be market driven,” she said, adding that NIST is “happy” to support the market when called on. To preserve flexibility, NIST’s cybersecurity guidelines for IoT manufacturers in general prescribed desired outcomes, rather than specific and “brittle” standards, Megas said.

“How you achieve those [outcomes] will vary depending on the maturity of your organization, the architecture of your product, perhaps preferences that you might have for you own internal processes,” she explained.

Megas said manufacturers, who well know their devices’ technical capabilities, often lack an understanding of how consumers actually use their devices. Megas said she has examined how to “help a manufacturer who has no insights into the final contextual use of this product, how can we help them…understand, ‘Here are the risks associated with my device.’”

At an American Enterprise Institute panel held in November, Megas endorsed an “ecosystem approach” to cybersecurity, arguing that network security is also indispensable.

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Cybersecurity

CES 2023: Railroad Industry Needs Cybersecurity Update

Shawn Smith advocated heavily tailored, industry-specific approaches that can address to the unique needs of the rail industry.

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Photo of Shawn Smith, vice president of business development of Cylus

LAS VEGAS, January 5, 2023 – To keep pace with today’s technological innovations and cyberthreats, the railway industry must retool its cybersecurity defenses, said Shawn Smith, vice president of business development of rail cybersecurity company Cylus.

The railway industry is working to patch old vulnerabilities as well as the new ones that have been create by developing technologies, Smith told Broadband Breakfast at the Consumer Electronics Show on Thursday. The need for enhanced cybersecurity has been a recurring theme at the conference, as have the implications of the ever increasing number of devices and technologies now relying on connectivity.

“We’re really fast-tracking an operator’s ability to keep pace with the change in the digital environment that they’re operating in (and) the interconnectivity that they’re seeing,” Smith said, adding that his team works to provide “visibility, threat detection, and response capability to keep pace with the change in their organizations.”

Smith said that many of the large rail players have developed responses for some cybersecurity risks, but lack the automation and planning tools necessary to maximize their effectiveness. He advocated heavily tailored, industry-specific approaches that can address to the unique needs of the industry.

Governments and industry players worldwide have of late been on high alert for cyberthreats, particularly since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Railways, like other infrastructure, are potential targets for nefarious actors, Smith said.

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