In this July 22, 2015 photo, the Department of Homeland Security logo is seen at the new ICE Cyber Crimes Center expanded facilities in Fairfax, Virginia. (PAUL J RICHARDS / AFP)
WASHINGTON – The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Tuesday released a new Cyber Security Strategy, citing evolving threats from cyberspace that the country is facing.
“The strategy is built on the concepts of mitigating systemic risk and strengthening collective defense, both (of which) will inform our approach to defending US networks and supporting governments at all levels and the private sector in increasing the security and resilience of critical infrastructure," Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen told Congress in a hearing Tuesday.
It is not enough to just tell drone operators not to fly in certain high-risk areas; we must give federal law enforcement the authority to act if necessary.
Ron Johnson, Senate Homeland Security Committee
The 35-page paper lists five pillars of the strategy, focusing on identifying risks, reducing vulnerability, reducing threats, mitigating consequence and enabling cybersecurity outcomes.
The document painted an evolving landscape in the realm of cyberspace, saying that developing technology and growing threats from nation-states and terrorists to penetrate US infrastructure calls for a new approach to the country's defense in cyber security.
Nielsen told the Congress that the agency needs new legal authority to track threatening drones and disable or destroy them if necessary.
"Our enemies are exploring other technologies, too, such as drones, to put our country in danger. ISIS has used armed drones to strike targets in Syria, and we are increasingly concerned that they will try the same tactic on our soil," she said.
A bipartisan group of senators including committee Chairman Ron Johnson and the committee's top Democrat, Claire McCaskill, said they had introduced legislation to give DHS and the Justice Department authority to "to protect buildings and assets when there is an unacceptable security risk to public safety posed by an unmanned aircraft."
Congress said it must give additional authority to DHS to deal with drones.
"It is not enough to just tell drone operators not to fly in certain high-risk areas; we must give federal law enforcement the authority to act if necessary," Johnson said.
According to statistics, the number of cyber incidents on federal systems reported to DHS increased more than ten-fold between 2006 and 2015.
The DHS effort ran parallel to recent steps from the Pentagon to beef up its cyber warfare force, as some in Washington claimed that the age of cyber warfare has arrived.
Following a directive from US President Trump in 2017, the Pentagon on May 4 elevated the US Cyber Command to the status of a unified combatant command.