Federal government unveils new cybersecurity initiative for critical infrastructure

When it comes to cybersecurity, the federal government's focus extends beyond national agencies and departments. To ensure the safety of the country as a whole, federal officials need to also dedicate themselves to the protection of the nation's critical infrastructure, as well as state and local governments. 

To this end, the federal government recently unveiled a new program called Enhanced Cybersecurity Services. As Forbes reported, the ECS is specifically geared toward working with the private sector to protect key infrastructure from cyberthreats.

ECS impact
The news source explained that many key aspects of critical U.S. infrastructure are either under the control of local or state governments or exist independently in the private sector. The ECS therefore represents a federal effort to extend national-level protection and resources to these areas.

The main component of these efforts is information sharing. Forbes noted that customers must be approved by the Department of Homeland Security before they are allowed to enter the ECS program. Once this happens, those organizations gain work with ECS providers that have access to cybersecurity-related data culled from numerous federal agencies. These providers can then develop more effective strategies for protecting those organizations deemed to represent critical U.S. infrastructure.

Additionally, participating organizations receive Domain Name System protections, the source reported. These tools stop users from visiting potentially dangerous websites, which eliminates one of cybercriminals and hackers' favorite strategies for infecting and gaining control of third-party networks. Similarly, these companies gain access to email filtering tools designed to prevent phishing attacks and untrustworthy links from reaching users.

Greater efforts needed
While the ECS will hopefully provide significant cybersecurity benefits, the source acknowledged that there are limits to how effective this program can be. Organizations that represent critical infrastructure are frequently major targets for a wide range of cybercriminals, from so-called "hacktivists" to state-sponsored cyberterrorists. To remain safe, these groups must take greater action and remain one step ahead of such threats.

Working with a third-party cybersecurity firm may be the single best course of action for such organizations. These consulting companies can offer expertise and guidance, as they will have in-house professionals solely dedicated to tracking and responding to new, more dangerous cyberthreats. With these firms' assistance, critical infrastructure organizations will remain as well-protected as possible from evolving cyberattackers.