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U.S. Unveils Ambitious Cybersecurity Strategy to Counter Russian and Chinese Influence

At the RSA Conference in San Francisco, the U.S. State Department unveiled a bold new cybersecurity strategy aimed at countering the digital influence wielded by Russia and China, particularly in the developing world. The strategy underscores the urgency of safeguarding democratic processes worldwide amid escalating cyber threats.

"We can’t afford a siloed cybersecurity strategy in today’s geopolitical climate. International cooperation is the key to defend against the threats to critical systems and infrastructure we’re seeing from Russia, China and others driven by rapid advancements in emerging technologies," emphasized Darren Shou, Chief Strategy Officer at the RSA Conference. "The State Department’s international cybersecurity strategy is an important and necessary framework for positioning the U.S. as the leader in countering cyber threats and the driver of a shared, global agenda — now we need to act on its tenets to get ahead of our adversaries. The rapid advancement of technologies like AI require new cybersecurity playbooks – something that is top of mind for all RSA Conference attendees this year as AI permeated nearly every speaker submission. We must balance the benefits of AI with the appropriate guardrails to safeguard its use and preserve the rights of every person online. Ever since the mass adoption of GenAI, we’ve been writing the security script as we go, and it’s time that the U.S. and its allies takes the lead on defining guiding principles for the global community to uphold. I was pleased to see the spotlight on AI governance as it’s critical that the U.S. strengthen standards for safety. Now is the moment for governments, academia, and the private sector to intensify their collaboration efforts and establish our formidable combined community to protect and grow a thriving global digital world."

Nate Fick, the State Department’s top cyber diplomat, stressed the imperative to confront cyber-enabled interference in democratic processes. "We have communicated and will continue to communicate to Russia and to China that we view interference in our democratic processes in the United States as absolutely unacceptable," Fick affirmed.

The strategy marks a concerted effort to rally support for tech policies that promote democratic values and isolate autocratic regimes. Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized this approach, stating, "Washington is 'unleashing our diplomatic arsenal' to help 'innovative' tech firms from the US and elsewhere compete for business opportunities."

Central to the strategy is the recognition that cybersecurity is indispensable for both economies and democracies. Blinken underscored this, cautioning against complacency in the face of emerging threats: "We’ve learned from the 5G experience that we cannot be complacent and let strategic competitors dominate the technologies that form the backbone of the global economy."

The State Department aims to garner support from developing countries for an "affirmative vision" of cyberspace that rejects digital repression. This initiative builds upon years of U.S. efforts to dissuade allies and partners from utilizing communications technology and software from autocratic countries like Russia and China. Fick highlighted the consequences of succumbing to digital repression, citing Costa Rica's ordeal following a ransomware attack orchestrated by Russian-speaking hackers in 2022. "They’ve misused cyber and digital tools repeatedly to threaten international peace and stability, to threaten economic security, to exert malign influence, to undermine human rights," Fick noted.

Despite progress, challenges persist. While some nations, like Costa Rica, have heeded U.S. counsel in rejecting Chinese technology, others continue to embrace it. Blinken cautioned against the dominance of strategic competitors in vital technologies, emphasizing the need for continued vigilance. The unveiling of the State Department's cybersecurity strategy marks a pivotal moment in the global effort to safeguard digital infrastructure and democratic processes against malign actors. As technology advances, international cooperation becomes increasingly vital in countering cyber threats and preserving the integrity of the digital world.


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