US sets sights on partnerships to counter cyberthreats, secure AI in new global cyber strategy

Summary: The U.S. State Department will announce a new strategy to combat nation-state cyberthreats and promote international cooperation in cyberspace, while also addressing the risks of generative artificial intelligence systems.

Threat Actor: N/A
Victim: N/A

Key Point :

  • The U.S. State Department will engage international partners, build coalitions, and develop new capabilities to aid allies in cyberspace.
  • The department will address the risks and misuses of generative artificial intelligence systems as part of its efforts to achieve “digital solidarity” among global internet partners.
  • The new U.S. international cyberspace and digital policy strategy will be unveiled at the RSA Conference in San Francisco.
  • This strategy builds upon the 2011 Obama-era whitepaper that defined U.S. cross-border conduct in the digital realm.

As part of a renewed push to combat nation-state cyberthreats, the U.S. will commit to engaging international partners, building coalitions and developing new capabilities focused on quickly aiding allies in cyberspace, the State Department will announce today.

The department is also expected to acknowledge the emerging risks and misuses presented by generative artificial intelligence systems, as part of a broad push to achieve “digital solidarity” among partners in the global internet ecosystem, a U.S. official told Nextgov/FCW.

The announcements will be part of a new U.S. international cyberspace and digital policy strategy set to be unveiled at RSA Conference in San Francisco on Monday, said the official with knowledge of a draft of the strategy who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid about the announcement’s details.

The first version of the blueprint came in the form of an Obama-era whitepaper in 2011 which sought to define U.S. cross-border conduct in the digital age. But the technological landscape since then has drastically changed with new and evolving cyberthreats, consumer-facing generative AI, 5G networks and cross-border data flow agreements.

The U.S. believes worldwide coalition-building will help deter hacking threats against critical infrastructure, said the official. Infrastructure security has become a mainstay theme in the 2020s amid multiple incidents involving hackers from Russia, China and others burrowing into and sabotaging critical economic sectors including water systems and healthcare.

Cyber officials have previously engaged with international partners on at least a financial basis to plant seeds for alliances. The White House has frequently cited a $25 million investment into Costa Rica’s cybersecurity operations after the nation was hit with a crippling ransomware attack in 2022. The State Department also has a service focusing on getting U.S. businesses into international markets, which may see increased efforts to spur private sector cyber investment as part of the announcement.

The strategy will also likely address the inappropriate usage of state-sanctioned surveillance as it relates to human rights abuses and repression. Notably, spyware abuses are a major area of concern for the State Department, which is trying to garner support for international controls on spyware use. The U.S. is working to get more nations signed on by November.

AI may help exacerbate such threats, the strategy is expected to say. It is also slated to acknowledge AI’s potential role in exacerbating bias and discrimination, with potential to augment authoritarian regimes’ control over their populations and stifle competition in the private sector.

Specific solutions to the risks outlined in the strategy are not offered, said the official, but said that it will stress acting quickly will help stakeholders prevent them from potentially worsening.

The strategy is also set to discuss how AI would intersect with the United Nations’s existing 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which include smart cities, virtual reality technologies and advanced infrastructure, added the official.

The U.S. has been trying to gain the upper hand in cyberspace diplomacy as adversarial nations work to use their own internet and telecom standards bodies to push what officials view as dangerous agendas that create instability and plant seeds for cyberattacks. Russia, for instance, has publicly objected to international proposals pushing for humanitarian digital conduct and has been accused of human rights abuses through its cyberattacks against Ukraine.

The strategy’s reveal will include remarks from Secretary of State Anthony Blinken the same day. Nathaniel Fick, State Department’s cyber and digital policy ambassador, will also be at the conference.


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