Biden signs executive order to strengthen U.S. cybersecurity defenses after Colonial Pipeline hack

President Joe Biden’s executive order comes as Colonial Pipeline continues to grapple with a crippling ransomware attack.

WASHINGTON —  President Joe Biden signed an executive order Wednesday aimed at strengthening U.S. cybersecurity defenses, a move that follows a series of sweeping cyberattacks on private companies and federal government networks over the past year.

The action comes as Colonial Pipeline continues to grapple with a crippling ransomware attack, which has led to widespread fuel shortages along the East Coast and prompted an all-of-government response.

The Colonial Pipeline hack is only the latest example of criminal groups or state actors exploiting U.S. cyber vulnerabilities. Last year, software from the IT company SolarWinds was breached, allowing hackers to gain access to communications and data in several government agencies.WATCH NOWVIDEO01:13Top U.S. and Russian diplomats speak following pipeline hack

The president’s executive order calls for the federal government and private sector to partner to confront “persistent and increasingly sophisticated malicious cyber campaigns” that threaten U.S. security.

Biden’s executive order takes a number of steps aimed at modernizing the nation’s cybersecurity:

  • Requires IT service providers to tell the government about cybersecurity breaches that could impact U.S. networks, and removes certain contractual barriers that might stop providers from flagging breaches.
  • Creates a standardized playbook and set of definitions for federal responses to cyber incidents.
  • Pushes the federal government toward upgrading to secure cloud services and other cyber infrastructure, and mandates deployment of multifactor authentication and encryption with a specific time period.
  • Improves security of software sold to the government, including by making developers share certain security data publicly.
  • Establishes a “Cybersecurity Safety Review Board” comprising public- and private-sector officials, which can convene after cyber attacks to analyze the situation and make recommendations.
  • Improves info-sharing within the federal government by enacting a government-wide endpoint detection and response system.

News of the president’s action came about an hour after Colonial announced it had restarted pipeline operations — though it will be days before fuel deliveries return to normal, the company said in a press release.

“Colonial will move as much gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel as is safely possible and will continue to do so until markets return to normal,” said the statement, which also thanked the Biden administration “for their leadership and collaboration.”

At the White House earlier Wednesday afternoon, President Joe Biden hinted his administration would soon have “good news” to share about its efforts to address the attack on Colonial.

The White House said Tuesday it was directing a “comprehensive federal response” aimed at restoring and securing U.S. energy supply chains in response to the incident.

On May 7, Colonial Pipeline paused its operations and notified federal agencies that it had fallen victim to a ransomware attack.

The assault, carried out by the criminal cyber group known as DarkSide, forced the company to shut down approximately 5,500 miles of pipeline, leading to a disruption of nearly half of the East Coast’s fuel supply.

July 5, 2019

The Federal Trade Commission announced last week a crackdown on robocallers, giving one of the clearest pictures yet of the people and organizations behind the avalanche of nuisance phone calls to consumers.

The actions are important because they draw the connection between robocalls, which may seem like mere annoyances, to the fraudulent organizations or illegal mass-calling schemes behind them.

“We have a strong robocalling enforcement program, which is meant to protect wider consumers from abuse and abusive calls,” said Ian Barlow, program coordinator for the FTC’s Do Not Call program…

February 26, 2019

The Federal Communications Commission, as part of a crackdown on the billions of unsolicited robocalls every year, is warning phone providers to implement technology to stop the scammers or face new government rules, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said Tuesday

“Recently I told the industry, ‘Look, we need to adopt call authentication, essentially a digital fingerprint, for every single phone call this year. We need to have it now or otherwise it’s going to be regulatory intervention,’” Pai told CNBC’s Jon Fortt, in a“Squawk Box” interview from the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain.

Hiya, a startup aiming to reduce telemarketing calls, estimates that Americans got 26.3 billion robocalls last year, a 46 percent increase from 2017. The average U.S. consumer received 10 spam calls per month last year, Hiya’s Robocall Radar report shows…

January 29, 2019

The phone rings and you run to pick it up, only to hear an automated recording. You are not alone.

There are approximately 5 billion robocalls made every month, according to robocall blocking app, YouMail. That number has been consistent, but the context of those calls changes. The most recent scam? Robocallers were trying to cash in on the recent partial federal government shutdown.

“The robocallers are marketers. You can think of them as marketers in the wrong business,” said Alex Quilici, CEO of YouMail. “They are always testing different ways to get people to respond to their calls.”…

January 4, 2019

It’s not your imagination. You are getting bombarded with robocalls.

Robocalling, a practice where marketers send automated voice messages to thousands of phones at once, surged 60 percent in the U.S. last year to 48 billion calls, according to preliminary year-end data from YouMail, a robocall management company that tracks the volume of calls.

“Scam calls have been increasing very steadily, and it’s driving people to not answer their phone,” said YouMail CEO Alex Quilici. “It’s driving people to not answer their phone and it’s kind of created this death spiral of phone calls as the robocallers ramp up their efforts, and the legitimate roboccalls try harder to get through…”

July 30, 2018

The recent bust of a large fraud and money laundering conspiracy highlights one key takeaway for you: Be wary of who is on the other end of your phone line — particularly if they claim to be the IRS.

The Department of Justice announced that 24 defendants have been sentenced in connection with a multimillion dollar fraud scheme in what Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the “first-ever large scale, multi-jurisdiction prosecution targeting the India call-center scam industry.”

June 12, 2018

Rebecca Schulte, 24, was at her apartment in West Hollywood, California, when she received a call from a familiar area code. She picked up.

“I’m on the side of the road, there’s been a really bad car accident,” a man said. He told her he’d found her number in the injured man’s phone.

Rebecca knew her father had been driving, and in a panic she asked if it was him: “Is it Brian?”

“Is your name Brian?” she could hear the man ask…

June 6, 2018

If you’ve picked up the phone only to hear the start of an automatic recording, you’re not alone. Roughly 16.3 billion of these calls have been placed just in the first five months of 2018, according to the YouMail Robocall Index.

In May, Americans received about 4.1 billion robocalls. That’s over 12 calls per person, according to YouMail, a company that, in addition to compiling the database, also offers solutions to the problem. And the number of calls keeps growing. In fact, over the past year, the number of robocalls has almost doubled.

June 25, 2017

The phone rings, pauses, and then a recording on the line says: “Hello! This is Rachel at cardholder services,” or “This is an important notice about your automobile.”

If you’re like many Americans, you have probably received a robocall just like these, which have become a scourge for consumers despite increasing efforts to stop them. In May, there were 2.6 billion robocalls, or automatically dialed calls, in the U.S. That amounts to over eight calls a person, according to YouMail, an app designed to stop the pesky calls…