In response to mounting cyber attacks on federal networks, President Obama proposed a Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP) that includes an executive order to create a Federal Privacy Council, a job description for the new title of Chief Information Security Officer, and requests $19 billion in extra funding, more than a 35% increase over last year’s spending. The President’s plan has already received support from some of the largest tech companies including Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Intel, Microsoft, RSA, and Twitter.
According to the White House, the number of information security incidents grew more than 11-fold between 2006 and 2014, and attacks from other countries have been on the rise. To thwart the ever increasing number of cyber attacks being unleashed in today’s landscape, the CNAP encompasses a number of measures, but these are the ones that are most likely to affect your daily life:
Multifactor authentication: The plan pushes for two-step authentication, both for government employees and for public citizens. This means passwords that are more complex than “Password123.” Multi-factor authentication requires a second proof of identification beyond a password, such as receiving a text message with a security code to enter. Many large companies already require two-step authentication, but the White House’s plan aims to make it more widespread.
Better government websites: The president is asking for $3.1 billion to modernize federal IT systems. He also wants to create shared government IT services so that each agency doesn’t have to develop its own. The goal is to provide better privacy and safety on federal government sites and to create a more efficient process for things like applying for government benefits or getting information on tax returns.
Decreased use of Social Security numbers: The White House wants to move away from using Social Security numbers to identify people since these numbers are often used to perpetrate identify theft. If you are a victim of identify theft, you can use the updated IdentityTheft.Gov site to report the theft and get help with steps like contacting credit bureaus and debt collectors.
Cybersafety stickers on tech gadgets: You may have already noticed that many appliances have UL (Underwriters Laboratories) stickers on them stating that the device has been certified as safe. The NCAP plan will expand UL and other certification programs into a Cybersecurity Assurance Program. The program will test and verify the security status of smart devices such as refrigerators, medical equipment, and even garage door openers.
Job and education opportunities in cybersecurity: The White House wants to hire security professionals in several places, such as the Department of Homeland Security, to outfit new civilian cyber defense teams. There are also plans to build 133 teams in the Cyber Mission Force, an entity that protects the government and infrastructure against data breach attacks. The initiative would also add tens of millions of dollars to fund scholarships in cybersecurity education for people who want to join the government initiatives. There will also be student loan forgiveness offers to entice recruits.
So what are your thoughts on the President’s cybersecurity plan? We want to hear from you!