Cyber Bureau Created

During his last days in office, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo approved the creation of the Bureau of Cyberspace Security and Emerging Technologies (CSET.)

According to federal studies, The United States and its allies are facing expanding foreign cyber threats as international trade, communication, and critical infrastructure become increasingly dependent on cyberspace. Members of Congress had proposed, in the Cyber Diplomacy Act of 2019 (H.R. 739), to establish a new office within the State Department that would consolidate responsibility for digital economy and internet freedom issues, together with international cybersecurity issues. The State Department subsequently notified Congress of its plan to establish CSET, with a narrower focus on cyberspace security and emerging technologies.

In a release, the State Department emphasized that “The need to reorganize and resource America’s cyberspace and emerging technology security diplomacy through the creation of CSET is critical, as the challenges to U.S. national security presented by China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and other cyber and emerging technology competitors and adversaries have only increased since the Department notified Congress in June 2019 of its intent to create CSET.”

The CSET bureau will lead U.S. government diplomatic efforts on a wide range of international cyberspace security and emerging technology policy issues that affect U.S. foreign policy and national security, including securing cyberspace and critical technologies, reducing the likelihood of cyber conflict, and prevailing in strategic cyber competition.  The Secretary’s decision to establish CSET will permit the Department to posture itself appropriately and engage as effectively as possible with partners and allies on these pressing national security concerns.

There was some controversy in establishing CSET. The General Accounting Office, in a report last September, found that State coordinates with other federal agencies to advance U.S. interests in cyberspace, but it has not involved these agencies in the development of its plan to establish a new cyber diplomacy bureau. In 2019, State informed Congress of its plan to establish a new Bureau of Cyberspace Security and Emerging Technologies (CSET) to align cyberspace policy resources with an international security focus and improve coordination with other agencies working on these issues. GAO recommended that additional federal agencies be involved.

In 2018, President Trump issued America’s first cybersecurity strategy  in 15 Years.

That year,  Director of National Security, Dan Coats noted that it was a measure of the growth of cyber and America’s vulnerability to it that cyber threat are at the top of the list of worldwide threats.

Coats revealed that “From U.S. businesses, to the federal government, to state and local governments, the United States is threatened by cyberattacks every day.” Russia, China, Iran and North Korea pose the greatest cyber threats, he said, but others use cyber operations to achieve strategic and malign objectives…Some of these actors, including Russia, are likely to pursue even more aggressive cyberattacks with the intent of degrading our democratic values and weakening our alliances.”

The Department of Defense adds that nonstate actors, which include terrorists and criminal syndicates, exploit weak state capacity in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, to cause instability and violence within states and among states. Coats reports that the America is under attack by entities that are using cyber to penetrate virtually every major action that takes place in America.

In 2015, General Keith Alexander, the former commander of U.S. Cyber Command, openly worried that the United States was not adequately prepared for a cyber attack. He noted that on a scale of one to ten in preparedness, the U.S. was at about a three. He emphasized that the time to stop a cyber attack is less than a minute.

Frank Vernuccio serves as editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy and Government.

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