On November 15, President Biden signed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan into law. Officially known as the “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” the law invests billions into transportation, broadband, and utilities. Unlike previous grant programs, the Act specifically recognizes the need for cybersecurity and includes funds to secure new infrastructure.
Building and maintaining much of this infrastructure will fall to the private sector, and as such government should leverage the insight and expertise of private industry in the planning process, since systems are usually more secure and reliable when security is built in rather than bolted on as an afterthought. To that end, Fortinet is leading an effort with a number of cybersecurity companies expressing their support for thoughtful security-focused implementation. A letter signed by 10 leaders in the cybersecurity industry asks that the White House convene a forum with the private sector to help ensure that the departments and agencies of the U.S. government implementing the infrastructure plan benefit from the insight and expertise of industry.
The Relationship Between Infrastructure and Cybersecurity
The digital nature of upgraded infrastructure brings not only opportunity, but also the potential for significant security risks. Although cybersecurity is not traditionally associated with infrastructure like roads and bridges, digital networked technology is everywhere. Today’s roads and bridges have traffic and stress sensors to improve performance and safety; public transportation, rail, and airports incorporate automation to keep everything running smoothly and safely; and water, power and other public utilities depend on countless networked control systems to keep the lights on and the water flowing.
Failing to consider the cybersecurity ramifications of these infrastructure improvements may increase vulnerability and the potential impact of failure. The threat isn’t theoretical; many public utilities have already been exploited by malicious cyber actors.
The companies that signed the letter to the White House are ready to work with the government to implement the Act because they believe that this law presents a once in a lifetime opportunity to improve the safety and security of our nation’s infrastructure.
Partnering to Protect Infrastructure
Creating the secure infrastructure of tomorrow will require extensive planning, coordination, and a comprehensive approach to managing cyber risk. It is an opportunity for public and private sector partners to work together to incorporate security from the start of the planning process through the building and operation of the new infrastructure.
Improving the nation’s infrastructure is a massive undertaking, Fortinet and other signatories of the letter are committed to a smarter, more secure national infrastructure. The infrastructure that our nation relies on needs to be both modernized and better protected. The coordinated, public-private approach to cybersecurity these companies are proposing will bring a comprehensive approach to ensuring this infrastructure supports our nation’s needs and has the flexible cybersecurity it will need to meet current and future threats.
Read the full: “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act White House Letter“
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