$2 trillion can build a lot of infrastructure. But can the U.S. secure it?

Topic: $2 trillion can build a lot of infrastructure. But can the U.S. secure it?

Without dedicated cybersecurity funding, experts say, Biden’s plan will leave America’s shiny new infrastructure vulnerable to catastrophic hacks.

President Joe Biden wants to pour trillions of dollars into upgrading America’s roads, ports and schools, but his infrastructure plan has a missing piece: protecting the technology in those shiny new projects from a growing legion of hackers.

Modernized ports will be full of internet-connected machinery, new roads will be built with smart technology to communicate with autonomous cars, and power and water facilities already full of networked equipment will be rebuilt and expanded. All of those projects will create new risks of cyberattacks that can destabilize American life.

“Designing and building security into any complex infrastructure with digital components in the beginning is far more effective than trying to ‘bolt’ it on after the fact,” said Grant Schneider, who served as the federal chief information security officer and as a National Security Council senior director for cyber policy from 2017 to 2020. “Getting security right from the start is even more important with infrastructure systems that will be in place for years and possibly decades to come.”

Biden’s $2 trillion-plus American Jobs Plan does not mention the need to protect new and upgraded infrastructure from hackers or propose any funding for this task, but experts and former government officials told POLITICO that it was critical that the final bill include significant cybersecurity spending.

“Any investment project that does not take cybersecurity into account is setting itself up for higher risk and a far greater chance of failure,” said Brian Harrell, who led CISA’s Infrastructure Security Division from 2018 to 2020.

The stakes of not protecting this new infrastructure are rising every day. Russian hackers have repeatedly taken down parts of Ukraine’s power grid and could try to mount similar attacks in the United States. Beijing’s tight control over Chinese companies could turn Chinese-made equipment into avenues for spying or sabotage. And terrorists or criminals could exploit bugs in smart cars to sow chaos on America’s roads.

Some members of Congress recognize that the implications are serious.

“Building our infrastructure safely and securely on the front end will keep our families and communities safer in the short-term, and will cost less over the long-term,” said Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), who chairs the House Homeland Security Cybersecurity Subcommittee.

Topic Discussed: $2 trillion can build a lot of infrastructure. But can the U.S. secure it?

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