In July, officials from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) confirmed a very scary rumor: hackers working for the Russian government had hacked the U.S. power grid, gaining a level of access at which they could have cut off power to U.S. citizens.
Clearly, U.S. infrastructure simply isn't effectively protected against cyberattacks — but that could change thanks to newly-signed legislation.
On Friday, President Donald Trump signed into law the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Act of 2018, thereby establishing the first agency devoted to defending U.S. infrastructure from both cyber and physical attacks.
According to the DHS website, CISA will include a National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) that will serve as the U.S. government's go-to resource for anything related to cybersecurity. NCCIC will respond to any cybersecurity threats, ensure all .gov websites remain secure, and provide the government with cybersecurity defense capabilities.
CISA will also coordinate all cybersecurity efforts between the government and its private partners, ensuring both are properly trained and prepared to handle cyberattacks. In the event there is an attack on U.S. critical infrastructure, CISA is tasked with coordinating response efforts and facilitating effective communication.
Power to the People
We still don't know for sure that the Russian attack on U.S. power companies is over. Some companies might not even know Russia hacked their systems, meaning they might not have taken any action to address the situation. In other words, Russia could still have access to those power companies' control rooms.
That isn't the only known example of a cyberattack on U.S. infrastructure, either, and it certainly won't be the last. Nations will likely wage the wars of the future from behind keyboards, and by establishing CISA, the U.S. government is showing that it's doing what it can to prepare for the era of cyber combat.
READ MORE: Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency [Department of Homeland Security]
More on cybersecurity: Yes, Russians Hacked U.S. Electric Companies, Homeland Security Confirms