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Cyberattacks have become a potent threat to US organizations and infrastructure. There is also a renewed concern over the possibility of Russian-sponsored meddling in the midterm elections, and criticism of the Trump administration’s efforts on cybersecurity.
It is over this backdrop that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is creating a center aimed at protecting banks, electric companies and other critical infrastructure against cyberattacks — a threat that now exceeds the danger of a physical attack against the U.S. by a hostile foreign group, according to abcnews.go.com.
The National Risk Management Center will work to quickly identify and address potential threats and improve safeguards across a range of industries and services, such as the power grid. It is designed to be a partnership with private companies and federal agencies, with Homeland Security as the lead agency.
The announcement on the new center was made by Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who said that the US government cannot allow Russian interference again. “Any attempt to interfere in our elections is a direct attack on our democracy, it is unacceptable, and it will not be tolerated,” she said.
She added that the threat is not limited to elections, and cannot be underestimated. She cited as examples the credit bureau breach where half of Americans had personal information exposed online, plus the WannaCry ransomware that spread from North Korea to more than 150 countries, and Russian hackers compromised the control rooms of U.S. energy companies. “These incidents, though, are only the beginning,” she said. “Rogue regimes and hostile groups are probing critical systems worldwide every moment as we speak. And without aggressive action to secure our networks, it is only a matter of time before we get hit hard in the homeland.”