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Axios reporter Bryan Walsh and Christopher Krebs.

Former Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Christopher Krebs told Axios at an event Thursday that America's adversaries could use cyberattacks in the future to "disrupt" U.S. decision-making.

The big picture: Krebs, using China as an example, said that future cyberattacks could be part of "a larger, more complex approach by an adversary."

What he's saying: "If things get hot in Taiwan, there's a possibility that the Chinese government could use some sort of cyber capability to make us focus here rather than over there."

  • "Same thing depending on what happens with Russia and Ukraine," Krebs added.
"So we need to keep in mind that there are not — It's not just about intelligence operations, but using technology to disrupt the decision calculus of us, of our of our allies, is absolutely within the strategy of our adversaries."
— Former CISA Director Christopher Krebs

Of note: Krebs also referenced a report by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) that found Chinese sponsored attackers were targeting natural gas pipelines in 2013.

Go deeper

Updated Dec 9, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on data security in a hybrid world

On Thursday, December 9th, Axios Future correspondent Bryan Walsh explored the future of data security in a hybrid world and considered how to create a safer online ecosystem, featuring Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and former Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency director Christopher Krebs.

Rep. Ted Lieu examined the weak links in government cybersecurity strategies, the presence of bipartisan agreement for stronger cybersecurity defense measures, and how to balance the benefits and threats posed by internet-connected smart devices in the home.

  • On increased government awareness of cybersecurity threats: “It’s pretty clear to me that we’re still way behind in terms of cybersecurity. I think the federal government is now much more aware of these threats. I’m pleased the Biden administration is taking it more seriously.”
  • On vulnerability disclosure requirements for federal vendors: “Something I understand about the federal government is we don’t really make stuff, we have private contractors make things. So when you have all these private contractors in the supply chain and when it comes to software and even hardware, if you don’t have vulnerability disclosures, those are weak links and people can go through these weak links and then attack the federal government systems.”

Christopher Krebs outlined how the pandemic’s accelerated digitization changed the nature of cybersecurity threats, the areas most vulnerable to a destructive cyberattack by an adversary, and how businesses should respond if they are faced with a ransomware attack.

  • On protecting critical infrastructure from disruptive cyberattacks: “That’s where the partnerships are important to ensure that the government is providing the appropriate support and guidance to those critical infrastructures, and at the same time evaluating where there may be some market failures and looking for opportunities for more regulatory steps. We’ve seen that with pipelines and railways and some of the other modalities of transportation.”
  • On how companies can improve their cybersecurity defense strategy: “I think what every organization needs to be doing right now, if they’ve had a prior ransomware event or not, is really think through what their strategy is...and look at what they can do right now. Multi-factor authentication, really hardcore identity management, segmentation across networks, backup recovery, make sure you have an incident response plan in place.”

Axios SVP of Product & Technology Melanie Colton hosted a View from the Top segment with ForgeRock CEO Fran Rosch, who conveyed how the increasing number of cyberattacks impacts companies and their consumers who largely operate online.

  • “Security continues to be a huge problem for companies. Fundamentally, we just think the internet is broken in a lot of ways from a security perspective. The usernames and passwords have now been around for over 60 years as the way that we identify and authenticate ourselves. It’s clearly broken as so many customers, so many consumers, use the same username and password as simple as possible across all their applications.”

Thank you ForgeRock for sponsoring this event.

Updated 6 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker