At a glance.
- Russia may tax, rather than ban, alt-coin.
- Cybersecurity plan for US water supplies under development.
- Broadband "nutrition labels."
- Unicom loses authority to operate in the US.
Putin signals support of cryptocurrency taxation instead of ban.
As we noted last week, Russia’s central bank is considering banning the use and mining of cryptocurrency on Russian territory, saying that the monetary system saps energy sources and incentivizes bypassing regulations. However, sources now say that Russian President Vladimir Putin has put his support behind a government proposal to allow crypto mining to continue under a revised taxation and regulation scheme, given that several regions of the country have energy to spare. Bloomberg reports that Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson, neither confirmed nor denied Putin’s stance, stating that the President has asked the government and the central bank to find a compromise. At a government meeting on Wednesday, Putin stated, “We also have certain competitive advantages here, especially in the so-called mining.”
White House announces water supply cybersecurity plan.
In an effort to better secure the US’s critical infrastructure against cyberattack, the Biden administration revealed a plan to improve the cybersecurity of the nation’s control systems in the electricity sector and water supply facilities. As last year’s attack on the Oldsmar water treatment plant underlined, the automation systems that support the approximately 150,000 facilities that supply water to 300 million Americans are vulnerable to attacks that could lead to water contamination or even complete stoppage of water flow to consumers. Under the new initiative, water sector facilities would be urged to implement technologies to monitor cyber threats to industrial control systems and share threat data with the government. As Reuters explains, President Joe Biden signed a national security memorandum last July aimed at creating “performance controls” for the country’s critical infrastructure system. The newly unveiled initiative will be supported by the Environmental Program Agency (EPA) and the Water Sector Coordinating Council. Participation in the pilot program will be voluntary, an aspect that could make enforcing the plan difficult to enforce, CyberScoop notes, especially given that the EPA currently has no authority to require facilities to participate. “The bottom line is that really after decades of us kicking the can down the road... the administration really takes steps to reverse this trend," an official told SecurityWeek.
Mark Carrigan, Cyber VP of Process Safety and OT Cybersecurity at Hexagon PPM, wrote to express approval of the water system cybersecurity measures:
"The Biden Administration's recommendation to implement detection technologies on critical infrastructure assets is a good first step in improving our nation's cybersecurity posture. That said, these measures will not be nearly sufficient to reduce the risk to an acceptable level. The state of detection technology today is not 'fool-proof.' Many infiltrations and subsequent attacks start with exploiting 'zero-day' vulnerabilities that are not recognized until after the fact. It’s like closing the barn door after the cows have gotten out.
"It is time for critical infrastructure to increase investments to improve operational resiliency so that we can respond to an attack, minimize the impact, and restore operations within an acceptable period of time. We must accept the fact that we cannot prevent all cyber-attacks due to the nature of the control systems that deliver critical services. We must improve our ability to respond and recover."
Nutrition labels promote healthy competition diet.
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has unanimously approved a new initiative to require internet providers to use “nutrition labels” that inform users of internet plan prices, speed, data allowances, and network management practices. The Verge explains that the hope is that the increased transparency will allow consumers to make more informed decisions. “Access to accurate, simple-to-understand information about broadband Internet access services helps consumers make informed choices and is central to a well-functioning marketplace,” the FCC explained. The move follows President Biden’s executive order, signed last summer, requiring the FCC to implement regulations giving consumers more clearer options in order to promote competition in the telecommunications and internet service markets. The FCC’s announcement opens up a commenting process before the rules go into effect by November.
China Unicom’s no longer authorized to operate in US.
In another unanimous vote, the FCC decided on Thursday to revoke the authorization for China Unicom's US unit to operate in America, Reuters reports, giving the company sixty days to end domestic interstate and international telecommunications services. The decision is the latest in an effort to eliminate Chinese telecom operations in the US due to potential threats to national security. As FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel explained, “The national security landscape has shifted and there has been mounting evidence - and with it, a growing concern - that Chinese state-owned carriers pose a real threat to the security of our telecommunications networks.” The company’s lawyer released a statement saying the vote was "without any justifiable grounds and without affording the required due process.”