Why Cybersecurity Should Be a Priority for the Biden Administration

Among other things

Key Takeaways

  • Cybersecurity is more critical than ever since we live our lives online more than ever before.
  • Cybersecurity threats arise whenever there is chaos.
  • Experts say the next administration needs to adopt a successful cybersecurity plan that addresses the primary concerns.
  • Large organizations and companies are responsible for adopting the best cybersecurity strategies.
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2020 has proven that we’re transitioning our lives to the digital world more than ever, but it’s also proved the importance of cybersecurity. Experts say the topic should be a priority for the Biden administration.

According to a Check Point Software Technologies survey released in November 2020, 71% of security professionals reported an increase in cyber threats since the coronavirus lockdowns started in early 2020. Experts say not enough importance has been placed on cybersecurity in the past, and they’re urging the Biden administration to take it seriously.

"The transition and the decisions the administration will make about cybersecurity matter, and it can be very consequential," said Ed Amoroso, CEO of TAG Cyber, in a phone interview.

Why Is Cybersecurity Important?

The pandemic has forced us to transition our lives to the digital world more than ever before, and experts say the more our lives are online, the more essential cybersecurity gets.

We lag behind in the U.S. when it comes to privacy, and companies need to step up.

"Our whole lives—how we shop, how we interact, how we learn—is now online," Katie Teitler, senior analyst at TAG Cyber, told Lifewire in a phone interview. "The more we transform to a digital life, the more vulnerable things become."

Schools and universities experienced a 30% increase in weekly cyberattacks during the month of August 2020, according to the Check Point survey. The survey also revealed that around the same time—between July and September—experts saw a sharp rise in double-extortion ransomware attacks, in which hackers extract large amounts of sensitive data, then threaten to publish it unless ransoms are paid.

Overhead view of girl attending online school classes from home during coronavirus lockdown
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Teitler said that threat actors will always take advantage of any type of chaos, especially in a chaotic year like 2020.

"Cybercriminals thrive on chaos, whether it's the pandemic or whether it’s the election, they thrive on it and use the opportunities of people being scared or confused or stressed out," Teitler said.

Aside from the pandemic and the election, Check Point’s survey also points to 5G network rollouts as another threat in 2020 that bad actors can potentially take advantage of.

"To stay ahead of threats, organizations must be proactive and leave no part of their attack surface unprotected or unmonitored, or they risk becoming the next victim of sophisticated, targeted attacks," said Dr. Dorit Dor, vice president of products at Check Point, in an official statement.

What Needs to Be Done?

Cybersecurity experts say the Biden administration needs to take the above factors into account to prioritize a successful cybersecurity plan that protects U.S. citizens. Long before President-Elect Joe Biden won the election, Amoroso wrote a list of bipartisan cybersecurity recommendations that he believes should be considered by whoever won the election.

According to Amoroso, there are three main considerations. Number one is to create the next generation of cybersecurity experts. Younger people entering the cybersecurity field are needed since Check Point's survey showed that 78% of organizations said they have a cyber skills shortage.

Team of Young Professionals Programming Sophisticated Code
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Amoroso said the other two crucial initiatives would be having each of the civilian agencies deliver a plan to modernize their infrastructure to a cloud-based networking system since they still run on outdated methods. The third would be streamlining the compliance framework.

"It’s been our observation that a couple of things are definitely true: careful planning is important, advanced planning is important, and selecting the right people is important," Amoroso said of his cybersecurity transition plan.

The transition and the decisions the administration will make about cybersecurity matter, and it can be very consequential.

In general, experts say the burden to perfect the cybersecurity problem we have depends on larger organizations, not individuals, so there's not much we can do but push these types of things to happen.

"Increasingly individuals can and should be dependent on large organizations to do these things for them," Amoroso said.

Teitler agrees with Amoroso, adding that while regulations from the government will undoubtedly help, cybersecurity ultimately falls on organizations and companies.

"I think it is [companies' and organizations’] absolute responsibility to use the most modern controls and to require multi-factor authentication," she said. "We lag behind in the US when it comes to privacy, and companies need to step up."

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