Fri, 18 Jun 2021

WASHINGTON D.C.: President Joe Biden has issued an executive order to strengthen U.S. cybersecurity defenses.

This follows recent high-profile incidents that put the spotlight on the U.S. public and private sectors, which are seen as increasingly vulnerable to high-tech spies and criminals operating from half a world away.

The executive order requires all federal agencies to use basic cybersecurity measures and new security standards for software makers that sell to the federal government.

Also, officials said they will seek to make software purchased by the public and businesses safer to use, as well.

"The federal government needs to make bold changes and significant investments in order to defend the vital institutions that underpin the American way of life," Biden said in his executive order.

Biden's actions come as a response to massive breaches by Russia of federal agencies and ransomware attacks on private corporations.

Biden's executive order came following news that the nation's largest fuel pipeline restarted operations, days after it was forced to shut down by a gang of hackers. The attack on Colonial Pipeline resulted in long lines at gas stations in the Southeast.

In April, the U.S. announced sanctions against the Kremlin for breaking into several federal government agencies, known as the SolarWinds breach, that was believed to be the responsibility of a Russian intelligence unit.

The Associated Press earlier reported that Russian hackers gained access to the email account of the Trump administration's acting homeland security secretary, Chad Wolf.

"The United States is simply not prepared to fend off state-sponsored or even criminal hackers intent on compromising our systems for profit or espionage," Sen. Mark Warner, the Virginia Democrat who leads the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.

Warner supported Biden's executive order but said Congress needs to act to address the country's vulnerabilities in cyberspace.

The order will create a cybersecurity safety review board to study major cyber incidents and issue concrete recommendations.

Also, as an acknowledgment of how influential the private sector is in cybersecurity, the new board will be co-chaired by an official from the government and another from the private sector.

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