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U.S. Agency Issues Call for National Cybersecurity Standards

Move comes on the heels of the U.S. military making moves to improve cyberdefense—and offense

1 min read
U.S. Agency Issues Call for National Cybersecurity Standards

In the post-Stuxnet world, the prospect of undeclared cyberwar has been dragged out of the shadows to the front pages. With that in mind, yesterday the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) kicked off an effort to establish a set of best practices for protecting the networks and computers that run the country’s critical infrastructure. The Cybersecurity Framework was initiated at the behest of President Barack Obama, who issued an executive order calling for a common core of standards and procedures aimed at keeping power plants and financial, transportation, and communication systems from falling prey to any of a wide range of cybersecurity threats.

The first step, says NIST, will be a formal Request for Information from infrastructure owners and operators, plus federal agencies, local government authorities, and other standards-setting organizations. NIST says it wants to know what has been effective in terms of keeping the wolves at bay. To that end, it will hold a series of workshops over the next few months where it will gather more input. The agency says that when the framework is completed in about a year, it should give organizations “a menu of management, operational, and technical security controls, including policies and processes” that will make them reasonably sure that their efforts represent an effective use of their time and resources. 

Oddly, though, the press release announcing the development of the Cybersecurity Framework makes no mention that the final public version of a report titled, "Security and Privacy Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations" was released on 5 February and that the public comment period continues through 1 March.

Image: Linda Bucklin/iStockphoto

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How Police Exploited the Capitol Riot’s Digital Records

Forensic technology is powerful, but is it worth the privacy trade-offs?

11 min read
 Illustration of the silhouette of a person with upraised arm holding a cellphone in front of the U.S. Capitol building. Superimposed on the head is a green matrix, which represents data points used for facial recognition
Gabriel Zimmer

The group of well-dressed young men who gathered on the outskirts of Baltimore on the night of 5 January 2021 hardly looked like extremists. But the next day, prosecutors allege, they would all breach the United States Capitol during the deadly insurrection. Several would loot and destroy media equipment, and one would assault a policeman.

No strangers to protest, the men, members of the America First movement, diligently donned masks to obscure their faces. None boasted of their exploits on social media, and none of their friends or family would come forward to denounce them. But on 5 January, they made one piping hot, family-size mistake: They shared a pizza.

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