Along with the announcement that the FBI would lead the government’s fight against cyberattacks, White House officials introduced a rating system that allows the private and public sector to more clearly define the level of severity of the criminal activity.
The six-level rating system, which goes from zero to five, considers anything at level 3 or above as “significant” — warranting the attention of higher-level officials to investigate further.
“Each level describes the incident’s potential to affect public health or safety, national security, economic security, foreign relations, civil liberties, or public confidence,” the White House said in its recent statement.
As part of the new initiative, President Barack Obama said that the FBI would be the agency coordinating intel on high-level cyberattacks and related threats. Up until the announcement, there was some confusion about which agency to turn to as well as inefficiencies in coordinating efforts.
When private and public companies report an incident with a Level 3 or above rating, the FBI would coordinate efforts among various agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In the event of a Level 5 incident, which is defined as one that “poses an imminent threat” to national government stability, citizens, and critical infrastructures, the agencies would be on high alert to quickly notify each other.
The new initiatives are part of the Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) on United States Cyber Incident Coordination. The report states in part, “Various government entities possess different roles, responsibilities, authorities, and capabilities that can all be brought to bear on cyber incidents. These efforts must be coordinated to achieve optimal results.”
The announcement came in the wake of recent high-profile cyberattacks, which included the Democratic Party and the Office of Personnel Management. According to the Government Accountability Office, the number of cyberattacks has increased by 1,300 percent — from 5,500 to over 77,000 annually, since 2006.