CISA launches pilot program offering ‘cutting-edge’ services to critical infrastructure orgs

The U.S. government is offering “cutting-edge cybersecurity shared services” to critical infrastructure organizations that need it most.

In a letter on Friday, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) announced a new voluntary pilot program focused on entities in the healthcare, water, and K-12 education sectors — organizations that continue to face a daily barrage of cyberattacks and ransomware incidents.

“CISA has acted as a managed service provider to the federal civilian government for years and observed significant risk reduction along with the benefits of cost-savings and standardization,” said Eric Goldstein, executive assistant director for cybersecurity at CISA.

“Leveraging a new authority provided by Congress, we are eager to extend our support and enterprise cybersecurity expertise with non-federal organizations that require additional assistance to effectively address cybersecurity risks.”

CISA plans to identify organizations interested in their services and “stress-test” their delivery mechanism to see whether they are able to “acquire, deploy, and operate these cybersecurity services at-scale.”

The first phase of the Cybersecurity Shared Services Pilot program will focus on up to 100 entities and will then expand beyond those sectors. They plan to host roundtables and information sessions with organizations in every region to understand what entities in each industry need.

Goldstein mentioned the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline and the nation-state actions of groups like Volt Typhoon as examples of the kind of threats facing critical infrastructure sectors.

“Scaling CISA-managed cybersecurity services for the segments of our critical infrastructure community that need it most is a cost-effective way to gain greater insight into our evolving threat environment, establish a common baseline of cyber protection, and, most importantly, reduce the frequency and impact of damaging cyber events,” he said.

“As America’s Cyber Defense Agency, we believe the ability to provide cost-effective, highly scalable, and innovative solutions to critical infrastructure entities in need of assistance is vital to our national cyber mission.”

As an example of CISA’s work providing free services to organizations outside of the federal government, Goldstein added that last month, they began the Protective Domain Name System (DNS) Resolver program which uses U.S. government and commercial threat intelligence to prevent systems from connecting to known or suspected malicious domains.

The service helped the federal agency block nearly 700 million connection attempts from federal agencies to malicious domains across the globe since 2022.

He urged organizations interested in the program to reach out to regional CISA Offices for more information.

The announcement came on the same day as CISA released new mitigation guidelines, first reported by Axios, designed to help protect healthcare organizations from cyberattacks. The agency also published guidelines for K-12 schools on Friday as well.

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Jonathan Greig is a Breaking News Reporter at Recorded Future News. Jonathan has worked across the globe as a journalist since 2014. Before moving back to New York City, he worked for news outlets in South Africa, Jordan and Cambodia. He previously covered cybersecurity at ZDNet and TechRepublic.