Homeland Security creates anti-hacking center to protect industries

The center will seek to protect banks, hospitals and energy companies from the next massive cyberattack.

Alfred Ng Senior Reporter / CNET News
Alfred Ng was a senior reporter for CNET News. He was raised in Brooklyn and previously worked on the New York Daily News's social media and breaking news teams.
Alfred Ng
2 min read
Department Of Homeland Security Holds National Cybersecurity Summit In NYC

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen addresses the Cybersecurity Summit on Tuesday.

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The Department of Homeland Security wants to prevent the next NotPetya. 

On Tuesday, the department announced the creation of the National Risk Management Center, a dedicated hub to helping private industry avoid and respond to cyberattacks from around the world. The focus is to protect critical infrastructure that hackers often target.

In March, the DHS warned that Russian hackers had been targeting electrical grids in the US for future attacks. 

The 2017 NotPetya ransomware ensnared computers in Ukraine, but had a ripple effect leading to the most destructive cyberattack ever that caused billions of dollars in damage across the US and Europe, US officials said earlier this year. A month before the NotPetya ransomware attack, the WannaCry ransomware attack affected thousands of computers around the world, stopping digital operations in hospitals, airports and universities. 

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen made the announcement Tuesday at her department's Cybersecurity Summit in New York. 

"An attack on a single tech company can rapidly spiral into a crisis affecting the financial sector, energy systems and health care," Nielsen said. 

The collaboration will allow private companies to turn to DHS for assistance, while also helping the agency by providing information about ongoing cyberattacks. If one bank is affected by a cyberattack, for example, the DHS would be able to gather information on that and then protect other banks from falling victim to the same effort. 

Nielsen noted that in some cases, victims of cyberattacks have turned to local police about hacks. The new national center can be much more helpful as a resource, Nielsen said.

"What we want to communicate today is that government is here to help you," Christopher Krebs, a senior DHS official said Tuesday. "We are inextricably linked. Your risk is our risk."

Watch this: DHS secretary says US must fight back on hacking attacks

First published, July 31 at 8:19 a.m. PT.

Update, 8:30 a.m. PT: Adds more remarks from Kirstjen Nielsen.

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