At a glance.
- CISA advises US Conference of Mayors on the "kitchen-table issue" of ransomware.
- Russia's central bank considers a ban on cryptocurrencies.
- US Cyber Command to partner with universities.
- US DISA to work with Cyber Command's Dreamport on workforce development.
Pass the salt, but hold the ransomware.
StateScoop reports that Jen Easterly, Director of the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), spoke at yesterday’s winter meeting of the US Conference of Mayors, where she explained that the rise in ransomware attacks has made the threat a “kitchen-table issue,” and encouraged local governments to focus on cyber hygiene and risk-mitigation strategies. “People don’t necessarily like to think about it, because nobody wants to get attacked. My hope with all of you is to make cybersecurity a kitchen-table issue.”
She highlighted basic actions information security staff could take, like updating software and employing multifactor authentication. She also pointed mayors to resources offered by the agency to assist local government. The website StopRansomware.gov was created last year as a source for alerts and guidance about extortion malware and vulnerabilities, and CISA also offers a free risk-assessment and vulnerability-scanning service. More recently, the agency has established a stable of state cybersecurity advisors to offer their expertise to local officials, and a $1 billion grant program to support cybersecurity funding.
Russia considers an effective ban on cryptocurrency.
In the latest development in the global effort to grapple with the rise of cryptocurrency, Russia's central bank mulls a quick and clean approach: ban it. The bank would prohibit the use and mining of cryptocurrencies on Russian territory, Reuters reports. The Kremlin asserts that crypto poses a threat to Russia’s financial stability and monetary policy sovereignty, as well as its citizens' wellbeing. Many countries including across the world are concerned about the negative impact of cryptocurrency, and Russia has previously expressed concerns that it could be used to support illicit activities money laundering or terrorism, and says the rapid growth of digital currency likens it to a financial pyramid scheme. Moscow banned the use of digital currency as means of payment, but did give it legal status in 2020. The proposed ban would include crypto exchanges like Binance, who says it plans to work with regulators to protect the interests of Russian crypto users.
US Cyber Command partners with US universities.
US Cyber Command has announced it will establish an Academic Engagement Network, a program geared toward connecting the agency with universities and colleges in order to share talent and research. Director of Academic Engagement at Cyber Command Colonel Scott Nelson told C4ISRNET, “We haven’t had a really structured and formal program that has deliberate objectives, activities and milestones around academic engagement. As we look at this cyber environment being much more complex and especially the threat environment, we need much more diverse thinking, experience, innovation and talent and those collaborative academic networks are ways to get after that.”
The program, which will include eighty-four schools, aims to engage future cybersecurity professionals and facilitate dialogue and partnerships focused on cyberanalytics. Over the next one hundred eighty days, the participating schools will attend a series of monthly webinars and tech talks and benefit from opportunities for students to partner with Cyber Command on research through a mentorship program.
Michel Cukier, a professor of reliability engineering and director of the Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students (ACES) at the University of Maryland, one of the schools invited to the program, told Maryland today, “Being chosen to participate in this academic network is of great value and is certainly indicative of the University of Maryland’s exceptional strength in cybersecurity research and education.” Gretchen Bliss, Director of Cybersecurity Partnerships at University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS), another school in the program, told the UCCS Communique, “This partnership will provide workforce development, additional student and faculty opportunities for internships and research in high priority areas. These efforts will serve not only the nation, but the government and industry partners in Colorado Springs.”
DISA engages US Cyber Command’s Dreamport.
Also seeking to develop its future cybersecurity workforce, the US Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is collaborating with the US Cyber Command’s Dreamport facilities to provide training for its staff, FCW reports. Jason Martin, DISA’s director for digital capabilities and security center, explained. "I think it's been incredibly beneficial, certainly to help DISA evolve and move to the next step when it comes to zero trust."
Dreamport has also helped improve DISA's connections with industry through other transaction authorities (OTAs), helping them to bypass some of the usual red tape that can slow the typical acquisition process. DISA's director of the center for operations, Llewellyn "Don" Means Jr. says the agency has also been strengthening its relationships with universities and other academic institutions in order to ensure that the schools’ attendees are engaging in the proper coursework across disciplines like cyber, engineering, business and finance in order to prepare them for careers in cybersecurity.