Joe Biden Signing Executive Order To Go After Cyber Security After Attacks

( On Wednesday, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that he hopes will prevent cyberattacks on the country’s critical infrastructure.

This comes one day after the president warned cyberattacks in the country could lead to a “real shooting war.”

The Biden administration has been working on this executive order for a while now apparently. However, it has become extra important in recent months after some major ransomware attacks have crippled different parts of the American economy.

An attack on Colonial Pipeline, for example, disrupted the jet fuel, diesel and gasoline supply for 45% of the East Coast.

The executive order includes a lot of voluntary measures that companies should meet. They detail online security standards such as requiring all users to use two-factor authentication so that hackers who steal passwords would have a tougher time signing in. It also suggests encrypting all data to protect it from these hackers.

Biden held a Tuesday night call with reporters to talk about this. A senior official with the administration on the call said the idea behind the executive order was to develop “cybersecurity performance goals” to assess the preparation level of individual companies and utilities.

The administration said this effort was a way to move past the “woefully insufficient” mandates and other voluntary actions that are meant to protect gas pipelines, electric utilities, industrial sites and water supplies that help keep the U.S. economy up and running.

Cybersecurity was the focus of many other presidents of the past. Biden, though, is treating it as a national security measure, unlike other presidents have.

Earlier this week, Biden met with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. He then gave an assessment that was grim of the attacks that were happening on the U.S., both by criminal ransomware organizations and even state-sponsored groups.

He told intelligence officers at the office:

“If we end up in a way, a real shooting war with a major power, it’s going to be as a consequence of a cyberbreach of great consequence. And it’s increasing exponentially — the capabilities.”

One of the biggest problems that Biden is going to have is the fact that he lacks real authority to make changes that he can mandate across the board. He can impose strict security standards on software providers who work with the federal government, and on policies various federal agencies use — which he’s already done — but it’s difficult for him to do anything in the private marketplace.

A major part of the infrastructure in the country is run by private industry, too, which is a major concern and out of the complete purview of the president.

The two most recent large attacks were on private companies — Colonial Pipeline and JBS, the largest beef producer in the world. So, while the president is hoping to be able to convince private companies to ramp up their security, there’s nothing he can really do to mandate it.