The White House announced on Oct. 26 that it will expand the Industrial Control Systems (ICS) Cybersecurity Initiative to the chemical sector, as part of a larger effort to set cybersecurity baselines for critical infrastructure and protect infrastructure from cyber threats.

This is the fourth sector the Biden administration has added to its ICS initiatives – it has already established initiatives for the electric and natural gas pipeline subsectors, and more recently added the water sector as well.

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“The majority of chemical companies are privately owned, so we need a collaborative approach between the private sector and government,” the White House fact sheet says. “The nation’s leading chemical companies and the government’s lead agency for the chemical sector – the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) – have agreed on a plan to promote a higher standard of cybersecurity across the sector, including capabilities that enable visibility and threat detection for industrial control systems.”

The Biden administration said it plans to roll out the Chemical Action Plan over the next 100 days, building on the lessons learned and best practices from the previously launched action plans for the electric, pipeline, and water sectors.

The action plan will focus on high-risk chemical facilities that “present significant chemical release hazards” with the overall goal of elevating the chemical sector’s ICS cybersecurity.

As the majority of chemical companies are privately owned, the plan will also foster a collaborative approach between the private sector and government. It aims to drive information sharing and analytical coordination between the Federal government and the chemical sector.

Additionally, the new strategy will encourage the deployment of relevant technologies “based on each chemical facility’s own risk assessment and cybersecurity posture,” the fact sheet says. The strategy also stresses that the Federal government will not endorse any specific technology or provider.

Finally, the plan will support the continuity of chemical production, which the White House said is critical to the national and economic security of the United States.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.