2023 - Cyber Threats To US Infrastructure 

Cyber attacks in the US have significantly increased over the past year, with the health care system and other critical sectors being attacked as the threat of malware like ransomware and foreign spyware continues to evolve. 

2022 saw US government officials and lawmakers renew their focus on cyber security and seek to secure the country’s critical sectors from rising cyber threats. This issue is expected to increase in 2023, as many of those threats are still escalating while the cyber sector is confronting an ongoing workforce shortage in its efforts to bolster the US’s digital defenses.

In addition to deploying ransomware, the threat actors have used “double extortion” techniques, whereby they exfiltrate data and demand a ransom payment to decrypt it, then threaten to expose the data if a ransom payment is not made.

Threats To Critical Sectors

The financial, energy and health care sectors are all facing a skyrocketing number of hacks. Cyber attacks have robbed companies in those industries of hundreds of millions of dollars, exposed data and even disrupted essential services, as when a ransomware attack forced the Colonial Pipeline to shut down in 2021, causing gas shortages in several states.

The health care sector in particular has seen a rise in cyber attacks in the last few years, particularly ransomware attacks targeting hospitals in order to gain access to sensitive information like patient data or medical research and technology. In Washington, Senator Mark Warne, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has warned that cyber attacks could lead to delays in treatment and even patients’ deaths.

US officials have already stepped up their efforts to protect critical sectors from those evolving threats, and have indicated that doing so will remain a top priority this year. Securing critical infrastructure like the energy and health care sectors plays a key part in mitigating cyber risks. 

Ransomware Attacks

Recent years have seen an especially dramatic spike in ransomware attacks, particularly targeting the health care and financial sectors. Last year, ransomware groups caused outages in multiple hospital systems, temporarily closed schools in parts of the US, carried out multimillion-dollar hacks on a number of companies and drove Costa Rica to declare a state of emergency in May as a barrage of attacks impacted its government services.

Tackling ransomware at home and abroad is also expected to take precedence this year as the US and its allies have come together to counter the heightened threat.

In 2021, the Biden administration, along with several other countries, launched its first annual initiative intended to counter ransomware globally. In November 2022, the White House held its 2nd International Counter Ransomware Initiative Summit, in which it invited more than 30 countries to discuss steps they can take to curb the rise of ransomware globally. “Ransomware is a pocketbook issue that impacts thousands of companies and individuals every year globally,” the White House said in a press release.

During the summit, the countries laid out several initiatives, including establishing an international counter-ransomware task force, actively sharing information between the public and private sectors and taking joint steps to stop ransomware actors using the crypto-currency system. The ransomware task force, which is led by Australia, is expected to become operational in January.

CISA:    The Hill:     CybeReason:   Cyberscoop:    FirerceHealthcare:      Silicon Republic:    Security Week:    

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