White House Offers Crisis Management Help for Infrastructure Hacks

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    Government steps in to help contractors running critical infrastructure secure their systems

    Experts have been warning for some time that hackers from criminal organizations and various nation-states with whom we don’t see eye-to-eye are targeting critical infrastructure, including power, water and nuclear systems, here in the States.

    Recognizing the lack of understanding and preparedness among the organizations that run said infrastructure, the White House is putting crisis management tools in their hands with a new cybersecurity framework, described in this quote from a PCWorld.com article by Grant Gross:

    The voluntary framework creates a consensus on what a good cybersecurity program looks like, senior administration officials said. The 41-page framework takes a risk management approach that allows organizations to adapt to “a changing cybersecurity landscape and responds to evolving and sophisticated threats in a timely manner,” according to the document.

    Organizations can use the framework to create a “credible” cybersecurity program if they don’t already have one, said one senior Obama administration official. “The key message is that cybersecurity is not something you just put in place and walk away,” the official said, in a background press briefing. “There’s no prescription or magic bullet for cybersecurity. There are only well-conceived, proven ways of continuously managing the risks.”

    Although it’s highly unlikely the framework provides a be-all, end-all solution to cybersecurity risks, hopes are it will serve to spark more discussion of and focus on the dire need to be aware of and protected from major attacks on our critical systems.

    At this point it’s all but inevitable that someone out there is going to take over control of the systems we rely on for safety and security, either for financial gain, political motivation, or simply because they can. The better prepared the organizations who hold the keys to the systems that keep us safe and secure are to do crisis management for major attacks, the more quickly the impact can be mitigated, and the more protected we’ll all be.

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    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management
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    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]