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Waging the Cyber War

The Biden administration was recently rocked by a Colonial Pipeline hack, and it’s not being taken lightly. A ransomware-driven cyberattack brought the life for a good deal of gas stations to a standstill over the last month. The attack led to Colonial Pipeline, which stretches from New Jersey to Texas, to shut down its network for several days, leaving the gas stations situated across U.S. Southeast without fuel. Even though the attack has now been diffused, the event has caused the population to be concerned about their over-reliance on what is a very small cluster of pipelines for fulfilling their routinely fuel requirements. The government agencies have taken the stock of the situation, and are now expected to announce a string of reforms that offer an enhanced level of security against such attacks in future.

Department of Homeland Security is leading this fight against mass-level cyber crimes. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a unit of DHS, is in constant contact with companies hailing from the pipeline sector to ensure every guideline for bolstering security is being met. TSA is keeping this reforms rolling in collaboration with another unit of DHS, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to form a more collective effort. The recent setback that led to the closure of 5,500 mile long system is believed to be the most disruptive cyberattack in the history.

As a start, DHS are planning to make the integration of upcoming regulations mandatory, thus ensuring there are no loopholes that can be potentially exploited by the hackers. Furthermore, as a part of the preliminary preparations, the U.S. government is also facilitating the expansion of these security agencies. Up until 2019, TSA had a staff of about 6 full-time employees in its pipeline security branch. This number will now witness an exponential increase as the agency looks to have a total of 34 full-time employees in the said division. If the reports are to be trusted, the new regulations will be putting a stricter structure in place, with TSA demanding better accountability from the companies over cyber incidents. If the reforms are not fully integrated, then the companies might have to face hefty fines as well.

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