A Comprehensive Guide to President Biden’s Cybersecurity Executive Order

Technology is getting complex by the day, and tech advancements have brought convenience and benefits to organizations. But with the great strides also bring with them increased cybersecurity incidences that have led to data loss, financial losses, and damaged reputation. Moreover, malicious activities are now more advanced and cunning than ever, making private and public sectors vulnerable.

For instance, the last few weeks have seen U.S. consumers turn to panic buying at fuel pumps. This was after the Colonial Pipeline, a key fuel source for the East Coast region, was hit by a ransomware attack. As a result, American citizens and organizations are reflecting on the increasing attack’s implications on national security and day-to-day life – and the government gave the appropriate response.

On 12th May 2021, President Biden signed the EO (Executive Order) focused on improving the country’s cybersecurity landscape. This move signaled a potentially enhanced oversight of regulations and laws relating to cybersecurity.

This comprehensive piece covers the main sections of the Executive Order and the impact on the nation’s overall cybersecurity posture.

Main Elements President Biden’s Cybersecurity Executive Order

Here are the primary sections of the cybersecurity Executive Order signed by President Biden.

Policy

The EO outlines specific instructions to enhance the Federal Government’s dedication to identify, deter, detect, protect against, and respond to the actions of threat actors. It’s focused on addressing the massive threats targeting both the private and public sector and ultimately the overall privacy and security of the entire U.S. population.

These vast cybersecurity requirements for government contractors and federal agencies require the Federal Government to bear its resources’ and authorities’ full scope to secure and protect its systems. The security and protection scope must comprise of data processing systems and those running key safety machinery.

President Biden’s administration requires the Federal Government to lead by example and meet (or exceed) cybersecurity requirements and standards.

Enhanced Threat Information Sharing

This section requires the Federal Government to collaborate with operation technology and information technology providers to evaluate the Federal Information System’s daily functions. They’ll also monitor networks constantly for incidents and threats. What’s more, service providers must report and share any information and data about cyberattacks.

Notably, the previous contract restricted the sharing of information about such incidents or threats. But with the new section, the limitations are removed to encourage sharing and reporting to the government. This way, more effective measures will be taken to adequately defend the federal agency’s systems and improve the overall cybersecurity landscape of the nation.

Modernized Cybersecurity Structures for The Federal Government

The third section requires the Federal Government to take the appropriate steps in modernizing its cybersecurity approach while protecting civil and privacy liberties. The section clearly describes the directives on adopting and implementing cloud technology and how to create and maintain a zero trust architecture. It also insists on the use of encryption and the deployment of multi-factor authentication.

Improved Security in Supply Chain Software

In this section, Biden’s administration emphasizes the importance of commercial and critical software and the need to enhance its integrity and overall security.  As a result, sectors and agencies must provide input on the current measures and develop new tools and standards in compliance with the criteria and procedures.

This will help create practical guidelines for ascertaining whether the software underwent secure development and improve the security structure.

Creation of a Cyber Safety Review board

Biden’s Executive Order requires the Attorney General and Homeland Security to develop the Cyber Safety Review Board. The board’s main role is to make the necessary enhancements on incident response practices and overall system security by assessing and reviewing cyber incidents. This team will comprise the private sector, the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, the FBI, National Security Agency, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and more.

A Standardized Federal Government Cybersecurity Response Playbook

Different agencies leverage multiple procedures to detect, address, and recover from cyber incidents and vulnerabilities. As a result, the EO requires organizations to develop a standardized response approach that outlines the operating procedures that can centralize tracking progress and incident cataloging.

This unified playbook incorporates all the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) standards. It also provides the primary terms that ensure common acknowledgment and understanding of incidents and an agency’s overall cybersecurity status. Finally, the playbook will highlight the right plans to respond to attacks and threats.

Improved Uncovering of Cybersecurity Incidents and Vulnerabilities Within Federal Government Networks

This vital element of the Executive Order focuses on boosting the government’s efforts to uncover any malicious activities and inconsistencies within federal agency networks. The Federal Government will come up with an EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response) system, setting the pace with early cybersecurity and detection practices and activities focused on reducing exposure to adversaries.

Enhanced Investigative and Remediation Capabilities

This section focuses on investigating and remediating attacks and threats. The EO asserts the value of retaining relevant information and logging data collected by IT service providers and agencies from within networks and systems. This means federal agencies and departments have the log requirement to create better solutions to cyber incidents and threats.

The final section requires the Secretary of Defense to work with the National Manager to come up with and issue a National Security Memorandum. This should cover the requirements, programs, and standards focused on the cybersecurity requirements highlighted in the Executive Order.

Key Takeaway

The cybersecurity Executive Order by President Joe Biden marks a crucial point to curb the increasingly audacious and cunning cyberattacks and threats. Though the EO may seem to have an ambitious scope, it offers significant demands for immediate action. Moreover, it clearly signifies the Biden administration’s intent of making real the government’s stated objective of overhauling federal cyber defense and the overall national cybersecurity landscape.

From June 2021, these legislative changes will outline the procedure and timing of federal contractors in sharing cybersecurity incidents and threat information. It also addresses creating a standard incident response playbook, establishing different approaches to detection and response, and vast requirements for the supply chain.

Agencies have already begun fulfilling the mandates as outlined in the Executive Order. But amidst the entire scramble, organizations can fail to understand and get the most from the thematic transformation. But this shouldn’t bother you if you partner with a reliable cybersecurity partner like the award-winning 4it.

Reach out for guidance on the Executive Order mandates and how you can improve your overall cybersecurity posture.

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