June 26, 2022

Volume XII, Number 177

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President Biden Calls upon Companies’ Patriotic Obligation to Prepare for Cyberattacks

On March 21, 2022, President Biden publicly recognized that, while his Administration is prioritizing modernizing the federal government’s cybersecurity practices, it is the patriotic obligation of the private sector to invest as much as it can in preparing for cyberattacks.

Over the course of the past month, media images of the war in Ukraine show the kinetic destruction of Russian artillery, missiles, and aerial assaults.  Yet, as President Biden warns, it is the unseen Russian cyber capabilities that now presents a clear and present danger to U.S. national security.   President Biden warned that “[b]ased upon evolving intelligence Russia may be planning a cyberattack against us.”  He noted that “[t]he magnitude of Russia’s cyber capacity is fairly consequent and its coming.”

Notwithstanding, he notes that while the Federal government is doing its part, the private sector largely decides the protections that it will or will not take to mitigate the risk of and prepare for the inevitable cybersecurity attack.  Understanding this dichotomy, President Biden urges companies, particularly those companies considered operating in or supporting critical infrastructure sectors, to take a selfless approach to cybersecurity.  He admonishes, “[l]et me be absolutely clear about something, it is not just in your interests that are at stake…it is the national interests at stake and I would respectfully suggest it is a patriotic obligation to invest as much as you can.”

What does this mean for U.S. companies, particularly those considered operating in or supporting critical infrastructure sectors?  It means act now.

In short, it has arguably never been more critical for U.S. companies to assess their preparation to mitigate the risk of and respond to a cybersecurity incident.  This is particularly so, as trends indicate that cybersecurity regulations and respective enforcement will only continue to expand under the Biden Administration.

As a clear demarcation line, on May 12, 2021, President Biden signed the Executive Order (“EO”) “Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity,” setting forth his priority to protect the United States from malicious cyber actors.  Since then, the federal government has not only taken significant measures to modernize the federal government’s cybersecurity practices, but has begun to further regulate the cybersecurity practices of the private sector. By way of example, this includes:

As the EO makes clear, “[t]he private sector must adapt to the continuously changing threat environment, ensure its products are built and operate securely, and partner with the Federal Government to foster a more secure cyberspace.”  Whether it is out of a patriotic duty to protect critical infrastructure against malicious cyber actors or to prepare to meet inevitable additional regulations, the time is now to ask yourself are we ready?

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© Copyright 2022 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLPNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 81
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About this Author

Ericka A. Johnson Government Investigations & White Collar Attorney Squire Patton Boggs Washington DC
Associate

Ericka Johnson is an associate in the Government Investigations & White Collar Practice. She represents companies and executives in, among other things, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) internal investigations, enforcement actions, defense matters and compliance before the US Department of Justice and similar authorities. She assists multinational companies in developing and implementing effective anticorruption compliance policies and strategies for domestic and international operations. As part of her compliance practice, Ericka also advises companies on cybersecurity risks,...

202-457-6110
Colin R. Jennings Government Investigations & White Collar Attorney Squire Patton Boggs Cleveland, OH
Partner

Colin R. Jennings has been selected as primary outside counsel for global compliance work by more than 35 public and privately held global companies, and regularly provides guidance and counseling in connection with these companies’ ongoing compliance efforts for both their domestic and international operations, including, when necessary, investigation and defense of compliance-related concerns.

Colin’s experience includes conducting independent reviews of the structure, operation and performance of established compliance programs. Colin regularly conducts compliance reviews and...

216-479-8420
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