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White House announces new actions to mitigate cybersecurity threats at US ports

The White House announced four new actions Wednesday that aim to boost the cybersecurity of U.S. ports as a way to support supply chains.

First, President Biden will sign an executive order that will bolster the Department of Homeland Security’s authority to address maritime cyber threats, announced Anne Neuberger, deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology.

The order will give the Coast Guard the authority to respond to malicious cyber activity by requiring maritime transportation vessels and facilities to boost their cybersecurity. And vessels and facilities will be required to institute mandatory reporting of cyber incidents.

Second, the Coast Guard will issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to establish minimum cybersecurity requirements that meet international and industry-recognized standards to best manage cyber threats. The administration also announced it will invest more than $20 billion into U.S. port infrastructure over the next five years.

Additionally, the Coast Guard will enhance a maritime security directive regarding the security of ports aimed to impose cybersecurity requirements on the owner and operations of Chinese-manufactured cranes.

Chinese-manufactured cranes made up nearly 80 percent of cranes at U.S. ports and could be designed to be controlled, serviced, and programmed from remote locations, according to the Coast Guard.

Neuberger will announce the actions at a White House event Wednesday in Virginia, which is part of the administration’s “Investing in America” tour that involves officials fanning across the U.S. to highlight President Biden’s economic agenda.

She told reporters that officials have been working on this executive order for 18 months and that it ties to particular concerns about Chinese cyber activities, as well as criminal threats.

When asked about what the punishment is for not complying with the new directives, officials said after the notice of proposed rulemaking and public comments are received, they will define enforcement.

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