DHS Outlines Additional Initiatives to Help Respond to COVID-19 Pandemic
Tuesday, April 21, 2020 | Comments

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its latest initiatives to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including adding more than 65,000 priority telecommunications users.

The DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) updated its guidance for identifying the “essential critical infrastructure workforce,” which state and local governments may use in making decisions about how best to address the COVID-19 pandemic. CISA’s revisions to its advisory list incorporate more expansive and targeted language for many functions.

In particular, CISA updated many categories to include workers who support critical functions by providing maintenance, equipment, supplies, storage, transport or other types of support to healthcare, public and environmental health, EMS and other types of aligned professions.

In addition, CISA April 19 provided priority telecommunications services to 65,606 additional users, including public safety and national security professionals, in the private and public sectors. This surge in domain access allows essential critical workers to use federal emergency systems to maintain operational readiness in high-impact areas throughout the COVID-19 response.

CISA also issued a joint advisory with the FBI, Treasury and State Department highlighting the cyber threat posed by North Korea to critical U.S. infrastructure and provided recommendations to enhance cybersecurity and boost resiliency, especially for industries that are already vulnerable as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

CISA’s cyber defenses help deny malicious actors the ability to use the web as a portal for criminal activity and aid law enforcement in bringing violators to justice. CISA April 17 identified and blocked more than 3,500 COVID-19-related malicious domains and email addresses since the start of the pandemic.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is deploying federal funds to help ensure that healthcare providers have the critical resources they need to provide rapid care and treatment to COVID-19 patients in hard-hit areas across the U.S. Since April 12, FEMA has obligated around $500 million to support state response efforts, bringing the total amount to $5.7 billion so far.

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