A new plan provides a concrete roadmap for achieving U.S. cybersecurity goals. The White House released its first version of the National Cybersecurity Strategy Implementation Plan, which lists 65 federal agency initiatives aimed at strengthening the cybersecurity goals laid out in the March 2023 National Cybersecurity Strategy.
The National Cybersecurity Strategy called for fundamental shifts in how the U.S. directs jobs, responsibilities, and tools in the cybersecurity industry. The implementation plan highlights two such policy shifts. It assigns greater responsibility to the most capable organizations in the public and private sectors for reducing cyber risks, as opposed to individuals and local governments. Further, it encourages long-term cybersecurity investments by increasing incentives.
The new plan, which will be updated annually, assigns each initiative to the appropriate government agency and has a timeline for completion. It does not, though, capture all agency activities in support of the National Cybersecurity Strategy. Eighteen agencies will be leading the implementation plan, with the Office of the National Cyber Director coordinating activities, submitting an annual report to the President and Congress, and working with the Office of Management and Budget to meet funding priorities.
Key goals are divided into five pillars. The first, “Defend Critical Infrastructure,” focuses on effective government coordination during cyber attacks, with CISA leading efforts to assist the private sector partners. The second, “Disrupt and Dismantle Threat Actors,” involves initiatives to support the campaign against ransomware. The third, “Shake Market Forces to Drive Security and Resilience,” emphasizes enhancing software transparency and exploring a global database for end-of-life software. The fourth, “Invest in a Resilient Future,” aims to coordinate international cybersecurity standardization to enhance federal agency participation. The final pillar, “Forge International Partnerships to Pursue Shared Goals,” focuses on strengthening interagency coordination with partner nations in the realm of cyberspace and digital policy.
The implementation plan comes after an extensive China-based cyberattack infiltrated some government agency Microsoft email accounts. On the whole, that incident compromised the email systems of about two dozen organizations globally. Other cyber threats have impacted the government as well, such as the global MOVEit breach attributed to the Russian ransomware gang Cl0p. Among the hundreds of U.S. organizations affected were the Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, and Office of Personnel Management. The severity of the situation prompted CISA and the FBI to release an advisory in June.