The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is taking steps to elevate cybersecurity and mitigate risks throughout the federal government.
As part of its plan, DHS is strengthening its partnerships with the private sector and expanding its investment in the infrastructure and people required to defend against cyberattacks.
“Cybersecurity is more important than ever, and we will build on the Department’s excellent work as we transform our whole-of-government approach to tackle the challenge we face as a nation,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said. “This week is just the beginning of a series of actions DHS will pursue nationally and internationally to improve cybersecurity at all levels.”
Mayorkas said this week that DHS will increase the required minimum spend on cybersecurity through FEMA grant awards. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) will implement additional capabilities, including potential new grant programs that will enable critical security investments.
Also, Mayorkas will speak at the President’s Cup Cybersecurity Competition and issue a call to action to build a cybersecurity workforce to confront the risk from ransomware. Ransomware is a cyber pandemic that paralyzes cities, companies, and hospitals across the country. Combatting ransomware will require partnering with private organizations, state, local, tribal, and territorial entities. CISA’s new “Reduce the Risk of Ransomware” Campaign is designed to encourage public and private sector organizations to take action to mitigate ransomware risk. Through its Cyber Fraud Task Forces, the DHS will also leverage the U.S. Secret Service to respond to ransomware incidents.
The call for additional investment in cybersecurity drew praise from the leaders of the House Committee on Homeland Security.
“For several years, the Federal government has underestimated the cyber threats posed to state and local networks and neglected the federal government’s responsibility to help defend them. Inaction has proven costly for victims – from Albany to Atlanta. And response to opportunistic breaches take the time away from defending against more sophisticated attacks,” said Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), chair of the Committee on Homeland Security, and Yvette Clarke (D-NY), chair of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, & Innovation. “Make no mistake, the cybersecurity challenges faced by state and local governments is a national security issue. By making strategic investments in raising the baseline cybersecurity posture of state and local governments, we can help avoid opportunistic attacks against them and free up resources to defend against more sophisticated threats.”