In his March 31, 2021, address, Secretary Mayorkas outlined a bold vision for the Department’s cybersecurity efforts to confront the growing threat of cyber-attacks, including a series of 60-day sprints to operationalize his vision, to drive action in the coming year, and to raise public awareness about key cybersecurity priorities.
Understanding that most challenges require a more sustained effort than what can be accomplished within 60 days, the sprints are designed to leverage the Office of the Secretary to (1) elevate existing work to address the specific challenge, (2) remove roadblocks that have slowed down efforts, and (3) launch new initiatives and partnerships where needed.
This sprint focused on leveraging the Office of the Secretary to elevate the fight against ransomware, an increasingly devastating and costly form of malicious cyber activity that targets organizations of all sizes and across all sectors. Ransomware is malicious code that infects and paralyzes computer systems until a ransom has been paid. Individuals, companies, schools, police departments, and even hospitals and other critical infrastructure have been among the recent victims.
Following the Secretary’s initial call for action in February, DHS created an internal task force as part of this sprint with representatives from its Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Coast Guard, as well as its policy, legal, public affairs, and Congressional experts.
The second sprint focuses on building a more robust and a more diverse cybersecurity workforce. DHS cannot tackle ransomware and the broader cybersecurity challenges without talented and dedicated people who can help protect the Nation's schools, hospitals, critical infrastructure, and communities.
The focus of this sprint is the DHS workforce, who have done heroic job protecting the integrity of the Nation’s election and responding to several major cyber incidents only a few months thereafter. From launching one of the biggest cybersecurity hiring sprints in the Department’s history to launching a DHS Honors Program, this sprint covers a broad range of activities, all of which are based upon the Department’s commitment to the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
This sprint is driven by the White House Industrial Control Systems Cybersecurity Initiative, designed to mobilize action to improve the resilience of industrial control systems. The attempted cyber-attack on a water treatment facility in Florida in early 2021 as well as the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack were powerful reminders of the substantial risks that need to be addressed.
During this sprint, the Secretary will focus specifically on the need to increase the cyber resilience of the Nation’s transportation systems – from aviation to rail, pipelines, and the marine transport system. The Transportation Security Agency (TSA), the U.S. Coast Guard, and CISA are all part of DHS, which presents a unique opportunity for the Department to make progress in this area, to leverage respective best practices, and to deepen the collaboration with the U.S. Department of Transportation, other interagency stakeholders, and industry.
This sprint will focus on the need to cement the resilience of the Nation's democratic infrastructures and protect the integrity of its elections. Leveraging the lessons learned from the previous elections and the relationships CISA has built with local and state authorities across the country, this sprint will ensure election security remains a top priority every year, and not only during election season.
This sprint is dedicated to the Department’s international cybersecurity activities ranging from those outlined in CISA’s first international “CISA Global” strategy to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Strategic Outlook to protect and operate in cyberspace, an inherently international effort. Most of the cybercrime investigations that the Secret Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) pursue every day also include a transnational dimension that requires cooperation with law enforcement partners around the globe.
- Fact Sheet: DHS International Cybersecurity Efforts (April 21, 2022)