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US CISA Urges Defensive Measures Against Volt Typhoon Cyber Threats

ByHuey Yee Ong

Mar 21, 2024
US CISA Urges Defensive Measures Against Volt Typhoon Cyber Threats

US CISA Urges Defensive Measures Against Volt Typhoon Cyber Threats

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has issued a warning to leaders of critical infrastructure organizations about the dangers posed by Chinese state-sponsored activities, specifically identifying the group known as Volt Typhoon. This cautionary advice, released in a fact sheet alongside insights from the National Security Agency, the FBI, and other domestic and international government partners, underscores an “urgent risk” and outlines defensive measures to safeguard against these threats. This development follows a series of governmental advisories highlighting the vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure sectors, including water and wastewater systems, to cyberattacks.

Understanding Volt Typhoon’s Threat

Volt Typhoon, as detailed by CISA, represents a significant and ongoing risk to U.S. critical infrastructure, having maintained access to various organizations’ networks for up to five years. This group’s operational strategy is notably sophisticated, leveraging “living off the land” techniques.

Instead of deploying malware, Volt Typhoon exploits legitimate system tools and functions for malicious activities, complicating the detection and neutralization of their threats. This approach, while innovative, poses unique challenges for cybersecurity defenses, requiring organizations to adopt nuanced and comprehensive security measures.

Recommended Defensive Measures

In response to the complexities of Volt Typhoon’s tactics, CISA’s fact sheet provides a blueprint for critical infrastructure leaders to fortify their defenses. Key recommendations include:

  • Implementation of Detailed Logging: To enhance detection capabilities through detailed system and network logging.
  • Network Infrastructure Hardening: Strengthen network defenses to resist attacks and unauthorized access.
  • Conducting Tabletop Exercises: Regularly perform simulation exercises to assess the effectiveness of response plans against potential cyber threats.
  • Development of Robust Information Security Plans: To ensure that plans are comprehensive, involving personnel from all business sections, including executive leadership, who should sign off on the plan and understand their roles and responsibilities.

The guidance also highlights the necessity of securing the supply chain. It advises on establishing stringent vendor risk management processes and employing secure-by-design principles in procurement decisions. This focus on supply chain integrity is crucial for mitigating risks associated with third-party vendors and enhancing overall cybersecurity posture.

Fostering a Cybersecurity Culture

Beyond technical defenses, CISA advocates for the cultivation of a strong cybersecurity culture within organizations, involving:

  • Championing cybersecurity risk assessments and audits
  • Engaging with external security experts
  • Increasing awareness of social engineering tactics
  • Promoting collaboration between IT, operational technology (OT), cloud services, cybersecurity, supply chain management, and business units to align security measures with business objectives and risk management strategies.

This latest advisory from CISA is part of a broader effort by the U.S. government to address the vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure to nation-state cyberattacks. The emphasis on collaboration and comprehensive planning reflects a recognition of the sophisticated and evolving nature of these threats, as well as the critical role of cybersecurity in national security and public safety.

As cyber threats continue to evolve, the guidance offered by CISA and its partners provides a crucial roadmap for critical infrastructure organizations striving to protect against sophisticated state-sponsored cyber adversaries like Volt Typhoon. The integration of advanced security practices, alongside a strong cybersecurity culture, is fundamental for mitigating risks and ensuring the resilience of critical national infrastructure.

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Featured image was created with the assistance of DALL·E by ChatGPT

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.

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