On July 26, the Obama administration released a framework for incident handling around cyber-attacks. The framework is part of the Presidential Policy Directive on United States Cyber Incident Coordination and action plan that was released in February of this year. It provides a clear standard of when and how government agencies will handle cyber security incidents. Included in the directive is a new color-coded scale that assigns specific colors and response levels to the danger of a cyber-attack.
The intent of the color-coded scale and directive will ensure that the agencies that are responsible for handling cyber security, respond to incidents and threats with the “same level of urgency and investment.” The scale is broken out into different levels, each representing a severity. Level 0 (White), is considered unsubstantiated, while level 5 (Black) is considered an emergency and the attack poses an imminent threat to the provision of wide-scale critical infrastructure services, national government stability, or to the lives of US persons. An incident that ranks at level 3 or above is considered significant and triggers the coordination of the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, as well as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Also, the organizations that are involved in the incident contribute to the response of the attack.
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