U.S. Department of State Introduces Cybersecurity Framework

The U.S. Department of State has published a comprehensive cybersecurity framework aimed at international cooperation when targeting cybercriminals and strengthening defenses.

Released at the RSA Conference in San Francisco, CA, the United States International Cyberspace & Digital Policy Strategy is designed to foster digital solidarity and leverage technology for societal gains, while simultaneously tackling global challenges such as cyber threats and digital disparities.

"The concept of digital solidarity rests on efforts to build digital and cyber capacity so that partners are not only better able to build a defensible and resilient digital ecosystem over the long term but are also able to respond and recover quickly when incidents happen and to hold criminal and malign actors accountable," said the State Department, in a press release.

The administration laid out the three guiding principles of the framework. First, the Department of State will promote a positive vision for cyberspace and digital technologies that adhere to international laws and commitments, including human rights law. The U.S. aims to collaborate with allies and partners to ensure that people worldwide can use digital technologies safely and freely to communicate, access education and economic opportunities, and obtain essential government services.

Second, the strategy integrates cybersecurity, sustainable development and technological innovation. These elements are seen as foundational for fostering economic growth and creating civic environments where citizens can exercise their rights, emphasizing that a secure digital ecosystem is crucial for broad societal benefits.

Third, the Department of State will employ a comprehensive policy using diplomatic tools and international strategies across the digital landscape. This includes managing various components like hardware, software, networks, datacenters and AI, ensuring a secure approach to global digital infrastructure.

According to the framework, these three guiding principles will govern the document's four tangible action items:

  1. Promote, build, and maintain an open, inclusive, secure, and resilient digital ecosystem;
  2. Align rights-respecting approaches to digital and data governance with international partners;
  3. Advance responsible state behavior in cyberspace, and counter threats to cyberspace and critical infrastructure by building coalitions and engaging partners;
  4. Strengthen and build international partner digital and cyber capacity.

The Department of State will spearhead the interagency efforts to shape, coordinate and integrate cyber and digital technology diplomacy, aiming to advance U.S. national interests. The success of these efforts and the coherence of their messaging hinge on consistent policy and execution within the U.S., reads the framework.

In a speech announcing the framework, Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressed the importance of a collaborative effort and how it is necessary as state-sponsored attacks from China and Russia are on the rise. "Some of our strategic rivals are working toward a very different goal," said Blinken. "They're using digital technologies and genomic data collection to surveil their people, to repress human rights. Weaponizing dominance in critical supply chains to coerce other governments. Employing AI-based tools to deepen polarization and undermine democracies."

The full strategy document is available here on the Department of State site.

About the Author

Chris Paoli (@ChrisPaoli5) is the associate editor for Converge360.