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President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) Creates Cyber-Physical Resilience Working Group, Seeks Feedback

3/17/2023

In an effort to support a more resilient digital society that is well-protected against cyber-attacks and other major disruptions, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) seeks feedback to support its newly created cyber-physical resilience working group. Among other requests, the group seeks recommendations on methodologies and standards to encourage resilient system design and adoption.

Digital technology supports large portions of society, impacting businesses, public services, critical infrastructure, and government institutions. But vulnerabilities and attacks across systems can lead to wide-scale and unpredictable effects. Malicious code deployed into IT management products can impact businesses, and cybercrime can lead to widespread banking outages, oil pipeline failures, or hospital security breaches, among other network disturbances.

“The digitization of all aspects of society has made us all dependent on complex and often fragile cyber-physical systems that can easily break down or suffer from cyber-attacks, software glitches, supply chain problems, mechanical failures, natural disasters, or other disruptions. These breakdowns or attacks can have serious and unpredictable consequences for many sectors, such as banking, energy, transportation, and health care,” the White House reports.

PCAST’s new cyber-physical resilience working group consists of PCAST members and other leading experts on the topic. The group will consult with experts from across the public and private sectors and academia. Over approximately the next six months, they will consult numerous organizations and experts to formulate recommendations to the president.

PCAST’s engagement will include leads on cyber-resilience at organizations including the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), MITRE, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The cyber-physical resilience working group is actively seeking recommendations on:

  • Recovery and survivability in the face of attacks and events
  • Approaches to assure continuity of operations in degraded states
  • Mechanisms to measure and assess modularity and limitations of scope or costliness of failures
  • Incentives to balance efficiency that can reduce resilience vs. the investment needed to maintain sufficient resilience
  • Out-of-band or systems-independent means of assuring physical control in the event of digital failures
  • Methodologies and standards to encourage resilient systems design and adoption

Ideas for submission to PCAST can be submitted to [email protected] with “Cyber-Physical Resilience” in the subject line. For additional details, read the recent White House news briefing.

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Beth Goodbaum

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