The United States and other democratic nations must jointly frame the “norms of behavior in cyberspace,” President Biden told attendees at the virtual Munich Security Conference.
In the first weeks of his presidency Biden has made it clear that cybersecurity is one of his administration's top priorities. “We must shape the rules that will govern the advance of technologies and the norms of behavior in cyberspace, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, so they are used to lift people up, not used to pin them down,” he said at the conference, The Hill reported.
The President pointed specifically at the need for greater scrutiny on companies with reputed ties to Chinese and Russian government-backed cyber espionage operations. Russian cyber crews were behind the massive SolarWinds hijack that infected at least nine U.S. government agencies and dozens of private companies, and Chinese-sponsored hackers have recently executed numerous attacks on drug companies in forays to steal intellectual property related to COVID-19 vaccine development. “U.S. and European companies are required to publicly disclose corporate governance structures, and abide by rules to deter corruption and monopolistic practices,” Biden said. “Chinese companies must be held to the same standards.”
Aligning to Improve Cyber Security
Building international consensus to protect critical networks in the U.S. and Europe from Russian cyber spies is central to democracy, Biden reportedly said. “The Kremlin attacks our democracies and weaponizes corruption to try to undermine our system of governance ...that’s why addressing Russian recklessness and hacking into computer networks in the United States and across Europe and the world has become critical to protecting our collective security...We want a future where all nations are able to freely determine their own path without a threat of violence or coercion,” he said.
Biden has named several cybersecurity veterans with both public and private sector experience to fill jobs axed by the Trump administration, and included nearly $10 billion for new cybersecurity initiatives as part of his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 recovery proposal.
U.S. Cybersecurity: Key Names to Know
Following an attack that targeted SolarWinds Orion software, Biden:
- Appointed Anne Neuberger, a top official at the National Security Agency (NSA), to serve in a new cybersecurity-focused role on the National Security Council;
- tapped Michael Sulmeyer, as senior director for cybersecurity;
- Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall was named homeland security adviser;
- Russ Travers will serve as deputy homeland security adviser; and
- Caitlin Durkovich is the new senior director for resilience and response at the National Security Council.
The fiscal $740 billion 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) included a measure to create a new national cybersecurity director position within the White House responsible for coordinating federal cybersecurity policies and serving as a principal advisor on associated emerging technology issues. Jen Easterly, who previously served as Deputy for Counterterrorism at the NSA, is reportedly the favorite to fill the role. Biden reportedly plans to nominate Rob Silvers, a former cybersecurity policy official at the Department of Homeland Security, to fill the vacant director post at the Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency.