President Trump’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council warns of “9/11 Level Cyberattack”

digital abstract background with skullsOver the past week, President Donald Trump’s various advisory councils have had setbacks. With advisory members handing in resignations and councils disbanding, opportunities to advance the President’s agenda seem to have stalled. The National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC), composed of senior executives from industry, State, and local government with the goal of protecting critical infrastructure essential to modern life, joined the resignation party that has impaired policy implementation.  The NIAC, swept up in the advisory council turmoil, has quietly released a report warning of an impending 9/11 style attack on the nation’s critical infrastructure and called for “direction and leadership to dramatically reduce cyber risks.”

The report, “Securing Cyber Assets: Addressing Urgent Cyber Threats to Critical Infrastructure,” reviewed hundreds of studies and interviews with 38 cyber and industry experts. The results display that although both the government and private sectors have “tremendous cyber capabilities and resources,” these agencies are not properly organized, harnessed, and focused. A few of the NIAC recommendations are:

  • Establish SEPARATE, SECURE COMMUNICATIONS NETWORKS specifically designated for the most critical cyber networks.
  • FACILITATE A PRIVATE-SECTOR-LED PILOT OF MACHINE-TO-MACHINE INFORMATION SHARING TECHNOLOGIES
  • Strengthen the capabilities of TODAY’S CYBER WORKFORCE by sponsoring a public-private expert exchange program.
  • Establish clear protocols to RAPIDLY DECLASSIFY CYBER THREAT INFORMATION and proactively share it with owners and operators of critical infrastructure.
  • Establish an OPTIMUM CYBERSECURITY GOVERNANCE APPROACH to direct and coordinate the cyber defense of the nation
  • Streamline and significantly expedite the SECURITY CLEARANCE PROCESS for owners of the nation’s most critical cyber assets

Although there has been few attacks on United States critical infrastructure, many in the private-sector cybersecurity community have been warning that hackers would soon leap from “purely digital mayhem” to “cause real physical damage in the world.” In order to combat this looming crisis, the  NIAC summarized its report stating that “Our Nation needs direction and leadership to dramatically reduce cyber risks” and NIAC “continues to support the President in this area.” With several of the members of the council resigning in the past few days, a lack of leadership and increasing threats do not bode well for the future of infrastructure protection.