In February of 2013, President Obama signed an executive order with the purpose of creating a cybersecurity framework (or set of voluntary standards and procedures) to encourage private companies that operate critical infrastructure to take steps to reduce their cyber risk (see our blog here). Critical Infrastructure Systems such as the electric grid, drinking water, and trains are considered vulnerable to cyber attack, and the results of such attack could be debilitating. The Departments of Commerce, Homeland Security, and Treasury were tasked with preparing recommendations to incentivize private companies to comply with heightened cybersecurity standards. On August 6, 2013 the White House posted its preliminary list of incentives encouraging the adoption of cybersecurity best practices.
The simultaneous denial of service attacks on the three largest U.S. banks which occurred two weeks ago were reported to have originated in Iran. After years of stealth cyber attacks on American interests, U.S. intelligence officials recently publicly accused China of cyber espionage of American high-tech data for their own economic gain. The head of U.S. Cyber Command has stated that there has been a twentyfold increase in cyberattacks on critical infrastructure from 2009 to 2011. With the need for national cybersecurity more evident now than ever before, the White House announced that it is close to completing a new cybersecurity executive order to address this critical issue.