On February 12, 2014 the Obama Administration issued an Executive Order titled “Improving Critical infrastructure Cybersecurity”. According to the order a cyber security framework will be developed that “…shall include a set of standards, methodologies, procedures, and processes that align policy, business, and technological approaches to address cyber risks.” Considering the huge escalation of cyber breaches in recent months at businesses and colleges, and repeated attempts to breach security at government agencies and other vital US assets such as our energy system, these measures are long overdue. The Executive Order defines those vital assets as “…assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters”.
In the academic world security is also a concern, since huge amounts of personal data is stored on university data bases and have frequently been targets. Carter (2014) writing in eCampus news notes that “The University of Wisconsin was one of many schools to see a deluge of cyber attacks from Chinese IP addresses in 2013. UW officials said there were more than 100,000 Chinese cyber attacks every day on the campus’s IT infrastructure.” Clearly the academic community needs to pay great attention to its security.
The new framework, developed in cooperation with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), is a good start at developing standards that will protect our assets – on all levels. It may have been a while coming, but it’s here now!