The increasingly delicate geopolitical situation and technological innovations linked to the development of artificial intelligence have turned the spotlight back on the subject of cybersecurity in the United States too, and with urgency.

Our company is based in Milan, but we have worked with customers all over the world for years. Among others, institutions of the European Union have used Boolebox’s data protection solutions to ensure the security of their IT systems. More and more companies in the United States have turned to Boolebox over the years for tools to ensure high encryption standards and the highest possible level of data protection security. Drawing on our experience, in this article we want to analyse the state of the art in the US in terms of cybersecurity and delve into new risks, threats and innovative techniques that can be used to counter attacks effectively.

Evolution of Cyber Attacks in the US over the Past Five Years

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released very interesting data on the increase of cyber attacks in the US from 2016 to 2021. Critical federal agencies and infrastructure for the country in the areas of energy, transportation, and communications are increasingly in hackers’ cross-hairs, putting US citizens’ data and privacy at risk and create disruptions and slowdowns in operations. The consequent cost of dealing with and resolving attacks is also rising sharply. Here are some figures: attacks involving compromised emails rose from 12,000 in 2016 to almost 20,000 in 2021. The cost of ransomware attacks in the US rose from 2,431 million in 2016 to 49,208 million in 2021.

US federal agencies reported 32,511 computer incidents in 2021. It was not possible to identify a definite origin for 46% of these attacks, but we know that 31% were caused by the misuse of technology and procedures. This translates into human errors by employees and collaborators. 9% of attacks were attributable to email phishing techniques, 8% to the web (hacked sites or hacked applications), and 3% to the loss or theft of physical devices such as PCs, tablets and phones.

The delicate geopolitical situation has also led to an increase in international threats, mainly from Russia and China. In 2021 alone, Biden had to face SolarWinds (a cyber espionage attack perpetrated by Russian state-sponsored actors against US government agencies), the Microsoft Exchange harming over 30,000 US organisations and attributed to Chinese government affiliates, and an attack on one of the country’s largest oil pipelines, hit by ransomware.

The Biden Administration’s New Cybersecurity Strategy

In light of the alarming data of the last few years, the Biden administration has immediately prioritised the issue of US information security in its political agenda.

The National Cyber Security Strategy (NCSS) was published last March; the document officially defines US cybersecurity policies, including principles and guidelines in adopting uniform measures to mitigate cyber attacks in the country.

The programme is centred on a few key points:

  • Rebalancing responsibilities, with the aim of decreasing the weight of private citizens and small companies and increasing the involvement of federal organisations, critical infrastructure managers and large companies in adopting uniform cybersecurity strategies.
  • Realigning incentives, reallocating investments with a forward-looking plan that not only considers day-to-day emergencies but also has long-term goals in mind. It is crucial to invest in a more resilient future that focuses on the research and development of new technologies for the security of critical infrastructure.
  • Improved international collaboration. In view of the current geopolitical situation – from Ukraine to Israel, from China to North Korea – greater international cooperation is becoming increasingly necessary to impose joint costs and shared strategies to counter the ever more frequent threats from state or state-sponsored actors.
  • Increased investments and resources in offensive strategies, as well as defensive ones. A public-private collaboration between the government and private giants, especially in the digital sector, could lead to the identification of innovative techniques to target adversaries and block their ability to attack.
  • Adopting a data-driven approach. It is indeed crucial to carefully monitor the objectives and collect useful data to adapt the strategy according to the technological and geopolitical changes yet to come.

We can certainly say that behind the NCSS signed by Biden is the realisation that, from a governmental point of view, it is no longer possible to rely on fragmented, piecemeal defence, relying on the responsibility of individuals. Implementing a shared strategy has become crucial, and not only at national level.

We at Boolebox will closely monitor the evolution of Cybersecurity in the US and Europe, with the aim of updating and adapting our data protection solutions according to common strategies and new regulations. To keep up with all the news, subscribe to our newsletter and don’t hesitate to contact us if you need more information.