Following two major breaches of federal networks, the White House late Friday tried to fight back by launching a 30-day program designed to beef up cybersecurity protocol across the the government.
The effort, dubbed the “30-day Cybersecurity Sprint,” calls on agencies to take specific steps over the next month to better protect sensitive information and make it more difficult for hackers to gain access to federal systems.
Those steps include: to fix any cybersecurity vulnerabilities immediately; tighten policies and practices for privileged users who can access sensitive information; implement multi-factor authentication procedures for accessing federal networks; and employ electronic “indicators” provided by the Department of Homeland Security that show when there has been a malicious cyberattack.
The White House conceded that recent attacks led to the new initiative.
“The administration has taken a number of aggressive actions to upgrade the federal government’s technology infrastructure and protect government networks and information, implementing tools and policies in order to detect and mitigate evolving threats. And we have seen significant progress … still, recent events underscore the need to accelerate the administration’s cyber strategy and confront aggressive, persistent malicious actors that continue to target our nation’s cyber infrastructure,” the White House Office of Management and Budget said in a fact sheet late Friday afternoon.
White House officials late Friday confirmed that hackers appeared to have accessed sensitive background information of intelligence and military personnel. That breach came on the heels of last week’s revelation that hackers gained access to the personnel records of as many as 14 million current and former government employees.
The hacks are widely believed to be linked to China, though the administration has yet to officially assign blame.