The sweeping executive order on cybersecurity and what it means
May 13, 2021
The Cybersecurity Executive Order is a welcome, positive move—a long-needed call to action that will help many organizations to do the basics brilliantly. More on those basics in a moment. But first, there are many unanswered questions. This is a good thing because it means there is time for companies to study the executive order and engage with partners and government authorities to work out the devilish details. Participating in the rulemaking processes will put companies in a position to not only meet the requirements but thrive in the new environment—where companies’ security practices will become part of their competitive edge.
This is the most promising, farthest-reaching move we've seen the federal government take to secure the U.S. If we can operationalize these changes, it's a major strike against cybercriminals, one that will increase their cost of doing business while reducing our costs.
Think of all the money companies are spending now to deal with the attacks that make it into and through their systems. The ransomware attacks. The data exfiltration. The denial-of-service attacks. The damage to reputations, degradation of shareholder value, the regulatory fines, and the angry people whose information has been stolen. If this executive order does what it is intended to do, shifting the emphasis from reaction to prevention, the net should be reduced costs for companies.
We expect and hope that the executive order will drive significant changes in companies’ secure software design and operations, EDR plans and real-time information sharing. If industry and government follow through on this promise, it will raise the security bar for everyone—improving resilience for U.S. companies and as a result, the resilience of America to cyber-attacks.
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It's an opportunity for all organizations to raise the security bar—improving resilience for U.S. companies and as a result, the resilience of America to cyber-attacks.
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When we talk about helping companies become brilliant at the basics, we're describing things like security hygiene; rigorous industry-specific controls; effective access management controls; continuous patching; ensuring visibility into and protection of 'crown jewel' data; comprehensive backup and recovery strategies; and crisis management/incident response planning. When we do these things better, everybody will be better off.
As the various elements of the order are implemented over time we believe there will be multiple, significant benefits for companies who follow the order's lead, including:
Companies, and CISOs in particular, need to quickly assess their ability to meet these standards and, beyond that, consider how to apply them. And this is important: companies need to work together and with their industry and cybersecurity partners, to participate in what the final standards should look like. The direction has been set by the government, now it is up to us to define how to implement these standards.
Finally, this is a key moment to bring cybersecurity to the board room. The secure software requirements in particular create an opportunity for both CISOs and CIOs to engage boards and CEOs about reshaping their strategies and investments to meet and lead with more secure products, not minimum viable products. This is what we expect to become a new, more secure normal.
In short, it's an opportunity for all organizations to raise the security bar—improving resilience for U.S. companies and as a result, the resilience of America to cyber-attacks. Let's get after it.
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