With Congress unable to pass legislation strengthening cybersecurity in the US, President Obama is taking matters into his own hands. The Hill reports that the White House has drafted an executive order establishing an opt-in program that lays out best practices for companies operating critical infrastructure, such as railways and the water supply.

Opt-in, with limited incentives for industry

Citing unnamed sources, The Hill reports that the proposed order would establish an inter-agency council to oversee the project, managed by the Department of Homeland Security. But with limited authority to offer incentives to industry, the White House will face challenges getting the relevant companies to submit to what is effectively optional regulation. The President has repeatedly stressed the importance of improving America’s resilience to cyberattacks from abroad, even making his case in a July Wall Street Journal op-ed.

While network attacks on US infrastructure aren't a new phenomenon, government officials say that they are growing increasingly bold. Debora Plunkett, head of the NSA’s cyber-defense arm, told students at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University that, "we’re starting to see nation-state resources and expertise employed in what we would characterize as reckless and disruptive, destructive behaviors," reports Reuters.