The White House on Tuesday rolled out a plan to secure the nation’s maritime sector against cybersecurity threats that could endanger national security.
The plan, which was compiled in December but made public this week, lays out the Trump administration’s plans for defending the maritime transportation sector against cybersecurity threats.
The sector is involved in around a quarter of the nation’s gross domestic product.
The three goals of the plan include establishing international standards defining threats to the maritime sector, enhancing intelligence and information sharing around these threats and increasing the nation’s cyber workforce for the maritime sector.
The plan is meant to address new threats from the increased use of new information technology and operational technology systems in the sector.
“The National Maritime Cybersecurity Plan demonstrates my commitment to promoting American prosperity by strengthening our cybersecurity,” President Trump wrote in a statement included in the plan. “This is a call to action for all nations to join us in protecting the vital maritime sector that interconnects us.”
National security adviser Robert O’Brien said in a statement Tuesday that the plan would help the federal government “buy down the potential catastrophic risks to our national security and economic prosperity” created by the reliance of the maritime sector on new technologies.
“This Administration continues to defend American workers and American prosperity while strengthening our national security,” O’Brien said. “President Trump has taken numerous steps to bolster cybersecurity measures, promote American workers, defend American technology, and lead the world in technological innovation.”
“Today’s release furthers the President’s successes at bridging the private and public technological and industrial sectors to benefit the American people and protect the American way of life,” he added.
Priority actions included in the national security plan include prioritizing the training of cybersecurity specialists in port and vessel systems, sharing government information with private sector groups involved in the maritime sector, prioritizing maritime intelligence collection and developing a “cyber-forensics process” for investigating cyberattacks involving the maritime sector.
The National Security Council will oversee the completion of these priorities, and will reassess the plan at least once every five years.
“The United States is a maritime Nation that depends on a robust, integrated, and secure maritime transportation system to support our economic prosperity, provide for our national defense, and connect the United States economy with the global market,” the plan reads. “Technology innovation develops at a pace faster than that which global maritime security can maintain, creating low-cost opportunities for malicious actors.”
The sector has already been targeted by hackers. The Coast Guard put out an alert in late 2019 that a ransomware intrusion at a facility regulated under the Maritime Transportation Security Act forced the facility to shut down for 30 hours after disrupting camera and physical access control systems, along with the entire corporate IT network at the facility.
The plan was also rolled out as the federal government continues to grapple with one of the largest cyber incidents in U.S. history, with the majority of federal agencies and the U.S. Fortune 500 companies compromised by Russian hackers as part of an attack on IT group SolarWinds.
The Department of Defense, which houses the Navy, and the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Coast Guard, were among the agencies impacted by the incident.