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Washington’s Drastic Measure for Securing National Infrastructure

In the age of rampant cyber threats, securing national infrastructure has become priority number one. But the most recent measure from Washington to this end was surprising to nearly all observers.

First, a breakdown of the problem:

Critical infrastructure in the United States, such as electrical grids, nuclear power facilities, and communications, have proven rather vulnerable to cyber attacks—even from relatively unadvanced adversaries. The reason for this is because most of these systems were developed without cyber security in mind as most were never supposed to be connected to the Internet. Hooking critical infrastructure to the net makes things easier and more efficient, but also exposes it to a myriad of cyber threats.

According to many policymakers, the solution is simple: Go retro.

Rather than bringing in new technology to secure the current systems, critical infrastructure should use analog and manual technology to isolate the grid’s most important control systems. This, according to advocates, will limit the potential damage of a large-scale attack.

Enter the Securing Energy Infrastructure Act (SEIA), Congress’s new plan, three years in the making, for securing national infrastructure.

The strategy proposed by SEIA does not call for revamping infrastructural systems per se, but rather adding what policymakers have dubbed “low-tech redundancies,” i.e., manual procedures controlled by humans. This means that in order to execute certain high-risk commands, there will be an additional procedure that will have to be done by an operator physically on-site.

“This approach seeks to thwart even the most sophisticated cyber-adversaries who, if they are intent on accessing the grid, would have to actually physically touch the equipment, thereby making cyberattacks much more difficult,” said a press release from the office of Independent Senator Angus King, after the SEIA passed the Senate floor.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Samuel Siskind

Samuel Siskind studied intelligence research at the American Military University in West Virginia. He served as a squad commander in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) Corp of Combat Engineers, in the Corps' ground battalions and later in its Intelligence Wing at regional and divisional stations. For the past five years, Samuel has worked as a consultant and researcher on physical and information security issues for private and governmental institutions, in the US, Africa, India, and Israel. He currently lives in Jerusalem.

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