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Why is the US ramping up its cyberdefenses

It seems that cybersecurity is no longer a private matter in the US: the National Guard is getting involved. Does proper online protection now require not only security software, but trained soldiers as well?

Why is the US ramping up its cyberdefenses

US cyber attack simulation

The US National Guard has just completed a two-week training session, during which they simulated cyberattacks which affected the country’s critical infrastructure. While this cyberdrill takes place every year, this time it holds a particular significance due to the intensity of recent attacks.

The training operation saw the first use of the Cyber-9 Line system. This is a list of questions that helps US officials to quickly describe and communicate the specifics of a cyberattack. It also speeds up the process of informing the affected areas.

With cyberattacks increasing in the US, the army had plenty of case-studies to use as inspiration for their realistic simulations. By analysing and understanding these attacks, the National Guard are preparing themselves for a better defense against future attacks.

Geopolitical context

While this may sound like just another army training operation, these drills show that online attacks and physical threats can be one and the same. An enemy no longer needs missiles or bombs to cripple a country’s critical infrastructure. Hackers can do just as much damage online, as several recent cases have demonstrated.

  • Earlier this year, hackers managed to disturb fuel distribution in the East Coast by initiating a ransomware attack against the Colonial Pipeline company, crippling its infrastructure. The attack resulted in massive fuel shortages.
  • In another instance, cybercriminals tried to poison Florida’s water supply, endangering the health of 15000 citizens.
  • Attackers also accessed the data of state institutions and government agencies. By installing a malicious code, like SolarWinds hack, into a private sector security update, they managed breach NASA, the Secret Service, and the Department of Homeland Security.

Cyber security is no longer a private matter, but rather a geopolitical issue impacting states and nations on a grand scale.

How can you protect yourself

While there is nothing that protects you completely from the fallout of state-level cyber attacks, you can at least minimize your own daily risks. Follow these simple steps to enhance your personal security:

  • Avoid clicking on suspicious links and visiting high-risk websites. These are potential sources of malware;
  • Use strong passwords and change them often on all your accounts;
  • Alway stay on guard and track the cybersecurity news to know about the most recent hacks, leaks, and breaches. You can also check this website to find out whether your login credentials have leaked anywhere;
  • Always use and update your security software — postponing updates can leave you vulnerable to attacks;
  • Avoid exposing your sensitive information on social media or other public platforms. Tweak your privacy settings to ensure that you’re not putting too much data in the public domain;
  • Use a VPN. It will encrypt your traffic and change your IP, giving you an additional level of protection against hackers.

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