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Congress report finds cyber threat against US growing

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
At least 1.000 US businesses have been hit recently by a "colossal" ransomware attack, according to a cyber-security firm. (Photo by Getty Images)

A committee established by the US Congress has concluded in a report that the government has made “significant” progress in dealing with cyber threats over the past year, but the cyber threat to the country is also growing.

The Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC) – a group composed of members of Congress, federal officials, and industry leaders – found in its 2021 implementation report published on Thursday that more work remains.

The report stated that around three-quarters of its recommendations for defending the US against cyber threats have been implemented since March 2020.

The CSC submitted recommendations for strengthening America’s cyber defense after Congress charged it with this task. The CSC published 82 recommendations last year. The group recommended the creation of a national cyber director position at the White House and strengthening the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

The CSC report stated that in the wake of a year of escalating attacks, such as the ransomware attacks on Colonial Pipeline and meat producer JBS USA, more remains to be done.

“We have seen a great deal of progress in implementing the original 82 recommendations from that report, as well as the recommendations we added in white papers along the way,” the CSC report reads. “But these changes are just beginning, and the threat remains every bit as real this year. As a country, we all—businesses, government, civil society, and individuals—need to act with more speed and agility when it comes to securing cyberspace.”

CSC co-chairs Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) on Thursday talked about the findings of the annual report. King urged the federal government to continue dealing with cybersecurity threats.

“The problem is more urgent than we thought, and we thought it was pretty urgent,” King said. “The threat just grows practically daily, and this job is not done, and it will never be done because the adversaries are coming up with new ways to attack us, and we’ve got to be able to adjust and reflect that real sense of urgency about this.”

“We need to put in place tools that help us assess our impact over the long run,” Gallagher said. “This is just the beginning of a process.”

The Biden administration has accused nations like Russia and China of harboring hackers who it said were behind the recent attacks in the US.

Hundreds of American companies were hit recently by the new ransomware attack, setting off alarm bells among US cybersecurity officials who have been increasingly rattled by a new wave of cyberattacks targeting broad sectors of the US economy.

The cyberattack, which is suspected to have been launched by the same group that hit meat supplier JBS Foods this spring, infiltrated a major software company called Kaseya and compromised hundreds of its IT management clients.

The cyberattackers, whom US cybersecurity experts said likely operated out of Russia, managed to smuggle ransomware onto the network platform of Kaseya, whose signature VSA software is widely used by IT management companies and other businesses around the world.

 


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