US government extends national emergency following spate of cyber attacks

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Executive order 13694, which declares a state of national emergency in the United States due to an elevated risk of cyberattacks, has been extended for another year.

US President Joe Biden said that the threat, from persons and organizations outside the country, is still very much present.

"Significant malicious cyber-enabled activities originating from, or directed by persons located, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States," the President said in a statement.

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"Therefore, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13694 with respect to significant malicious cyber-enabled activities."

Russians on the move

The US government says there is increased risk of cyberattack against endpoints belonging to critical infrastructure firms, with various threat actors using denial of service attacks, data theft, and other forms of crime. 

Former US President Barack Obama declared a state of national emergency on April 1, 2015, and sanctioned individuals that were known to have been coordinating or contributing to cyberattacks against the country. A year and a half later, the executive order was extended to include malicious attacks aimed at undermining the country’s democratic processes. 

Earlier this month, President Biden warned critical infrastructure providers to stay vigilant, saying the government had “evolving intelligence” of Russian cyberattackers mounting attacks in retaliation to the imposed sanctions. 

“If you have not already done so, I urge our private sector partners to harden your cyber defenses immediately by implementing the best practices we have developed together over the last year,” Biden said at the time. 

“You have the power, the capacity, and the responsibility to strengthen the cybersecurity and resilience of the critical services and technologies on which Americans rely. We need everyone to do their part to meet one of the defining threats of our time — your vigilance and urgency today can prevent or mitigate attacks tomorrow.”

Sead Fadilpašić

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.