Cybersecurity in the Wake of the Colonial Pipeline Attack

by Maddy Bueche

With cyberattacks on the rise, we take a look at its impact and preventative measures that can be taken

As technology evolves, so does the potential for cyberattacks in all forms. The U.S. alone is facing more aggressive and bold attacks in 2021 than it has ever seen. Just as technology and cybersecurity get more complex, so do the efforts of the groups looking to exploit their weaknesses. With the increasing risk of compromised security the U.S. now faces a difficult fight against an unseen enemy.

The Colonial Pipeline attack

The recent attack on Colonial Pipeline not only left the company bleeding after paying a ransom of $4.4 million. It also had far reaching consequences for everyday-life Americans. Colonial Pipeline produces 45% of the East Coast’s fuel and in turn caused gas outages. It increased costs at the pump that directly affected at least 11 states. Gas prices in some states rose higher than they have been in three years. Colonial’s CEO, Joseph Blount, who made the decision to pay the ransom said it was necessary given the essential nature of the company’s infrastructure. Blount was also unsure of how severe the breach was and how long it would take them to resume operations if they did not pay the ransom. So he made the controversial decision to disburse even though the long-term affects would cost the company tens of millions of dollars in the long-run.

This was just one cyber attack on one company. So now the question is, what are the next steps? Threats of cyber attacks are imminent and the ability for these crimes to be held accountable pose difficult challenges. There is often little to be done by law enforcement as the attackers are difficult to trace and potentially lie outside of their jurisdiction. This begs the question, what is the response to the increasing threat imposed on cyber security?

National Response to the Attacks

Within a week of the attack on Colonial Pipeline the President implemented an Executive Order to improve the nation’s cybersecurity and protect federal government networks. The order is focused on charting a new course to improve the nation’s cybersecurity and protecting federal government networks. These measures will focus on government based security. The private sector will be strongly encouraged to comply and follow suit with these preventative measures. This is important since much of the U.S.’s critical infrastructure is privately owned. The first section of the Executive Order focuses on removing barriers to threat information sharing between the government and the private sector. This will essentially eliminate contractual barriers preventing IT providers from withholding breach information that could impact government networks.

The order will focus on improving the ability to detect malicious cyber activity on federal networks. It will give networks related to the federal government stronger responses in the event of an attack. Standards for software and responses to threats will be uniform and therefore set a baseline for security expectations. This will be done by enabling a government-wide endpoint detection and response system. This will allow for augmented information sharing within the Federal government.

The final prominent point made in the order is to bolster baseline security standards for development of software used by the government. This will ensure that critical software will be secure from vulnerabilities that can be exploited by assailants. The hope of raising these expectations for software development is to drive the market to produce security into software. By raising demand for the development of secure software, the overall protection of network information will be enhanced.

The Executive Order is merely a step towards preventing cyberattacks, albeit a positive one. It only directly effects government software and it’s information and does not change the standards within the private sector. Awareness and preventative measures are the best protection to combat against these growing threats. This goes to show the importance of investing into private networks. Making sure that they have the proper software security, big or small, will be key.

What Can You Do?

The first line of defense for any network is a firewall. It is like a hard, protective shell keeping harmful malware out of your system. It looks for suspicious traffic and can also prevent cyberattacks that take place on the internet.

Firewalls are the first line of defense of any organization’s cybersecurity. They keep malware out of your system by shielding it from suspicious traffic. They can also prevent cyberattacks that occur over the internet. On the other hand, firewalls cannot prevent information from being leaked by an employee. It also cannot protect the network from a flash drive containing viruses. That is where anti-virus software comes into play.

If you have a growing business it could be well worth your while to acquire a Managed Service Plan (MSP). Advanced security tools can detect if someone is attempting a brute force password intrusion, and many other attack vectors. Any errors, viruses, or problems found will proactively fixed, often before you notice. There are other practical reasons why a MSP would be beneficial for your company, but the security and protection alone are reason enough.

Staying informed and taking preventative measures are objectively two of the best ways to prevent cyberattacks. Setting up a firewall and anti-virus software are simple and affordable ways to protect your information, which is invaluable. We can do our part and push cybersecurity to be an everyday asset for everyone. Your privacy and security is worth it.

https://www.zdnet.com/article/colonial-pipeline-ransomware-attack-everything-you-need-to-know/

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