May 7, 2024 - Technology

State Department unveils roadmap for cyber diplomacy

Illustration of a globe on top of a pillar

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The State Department released its highly anticipated international cyber strategy at the RSA Conference on Monday.

Why it matters: The strategy sets the tone for how the U.S. tackles international cyber diplomacy efforts, including conversations with allied nations about cyber norms, sanctioning ransomware gangs and establishing data governance policies.

What they're saying: "The choices that we make today, that you make today, will be decisive, and they will reverberate for generations," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during a keynote speech Monday.

Zoom in: The Biden administration's new international cyber strategy lays out several action areas that will be core tenets of State's cybersecurity and tech policy work.

  • Those commitments include maintaining an open and resilient digital ecosystem, aligning data governance policies across allied nations, establishing cyber norms, and building out international government partnerships in cybersecurity.
  • The strategy also lays out practical efforts the State Department will take to secure telecommunications networks and engage with civil society and nongovernmental organizations, and it details partnerships the department is undergoing to help counter disinformation.

Threat level: The strategy also names China as the "broadest, most active, and most persistent cyber threat to government and private sector networks in the United States."

Catch up quick: State has been building out its new cyber diplomacy bureau for roughly two years, and the new strategy further formalizes the bureau's priorities list.

Between the lines: It's extremely rare for the secretary of state to appear at RSAC — underscoring how important the department sees the private sector's role in implementing the international cyber strategy.

  • The Biden administration recently started backing a set of investment principles established by Paladin Capital Group that are aligned with the strategy.
  • CISA has also worked with the State Department to promote its "secure-by-design" principles around the world.

What's next: The strategy teases that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is working on its own digital policy.

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