It appears that Congressional gridlock on passing election security measures has been side-stepped by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which plans to prioritize China’s cyber threat and fortify election cybersecurity.
The agency outlined its play book in a new Strategic Intent position paper, including safeguarding the country’s electoral process against advanced threats posed by China. The document outlines and details CISA’s “strategic vision and operational priorities” and serves up the agency’s short term goals as it develops a longer-term, bigger picture strategic plan. In remarks last week at Auburn University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security in Auburn, Alabama, CISA Director Christopher Krebs called the document the agency’s “keystone.” Krebs, who previously was a member of Microsoft’s U.S. Government Affairs team as the Director for Cybersecurity Policy before entering government service, is the first federal official to head CISA.
“Many of the risks we face today came about precisely because so many entities had a stake in the problem set, yet no single one had ultimate responsibility,” the policy book reads. CISA believes it can fix the silo problem: “The heart of CISA’s purpose is to mobilize a collective defense of our nation’s critical infrastructure...As the nation’s risk advisor, CISA is unique in its position to partner with private industry, researchers, international governments, emergency responders, intelligence, defense, and other communities.”
The agency also called out its top five priorities:
- China, with an emphasis on supply chain management and 5G networks.
- Election security.
- Soft target security.
- Federal cybersecurity.
- Industrial control systems.
Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), who chairs the Committee on Homeland Security, said in a statement that he is “encouraged to see that Director Krebs has a strategy and a vision to guide CISA at this pivotal time...We know that our nation’s banks, hospitals, power plants, election systems, and state and local governments are under constant attack, and CISA must stand ready to help these owners and operators shore up their defenses. This Strategic Intent document sets forth an ambitious agenda, and I hope to hear more from Director Krebs about how he plans to execute the priorities outlined today, and what resources CISA will need in order to do so.”