US launches Cybersecurity Bureau

On Monday, the United States of America announced the operationalization of the US Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy (CDP).

The cybersecurity bureau has been subdivided into three branches: Cyberspace Security, International Information and Communications Policy, and Digital Freedom.

Speaking at the US Cybersecurity Bureau launch, US Secretary Antony Blinken said, “Democracies must together answer the question of whether universal rights and democratic values will be at the center of our digital lives.”

The launch of a dedicated cybersecurity bureau by the US shows the importance of cybersecurity in the international arena and America’s dealing with its allies and adversaries like Russia and China.

According to reports, a career diplomat Jennifer Bachus who also happens to be the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Jennifer, will be leading the bureau until an ambassador-at-large is confirmed to take her place.

Bachus has previously served as US Charge de Affairs in the Czech Republic, Kosovo, France, Vietnam, and Jamaica.

It may be noted that during the Obama administration, an office for the Coordination of Cyber Issues was functional. Its primary objective was to coordinate and streamline US diplomatic efforts in negotiating cyberspace rules and expectations of cyberspace.

However, during the Trump administration’s overhaul of the State Department in 2017, then State Secretary Rex Tillerson abolished the office for the Coordination of Cyber Issues and instead assigned cybersecurity responsibilities to the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs.

Against this backdrop, it’s pertinent to note the Russian foreign ministry’s recent allegation against US-based cyber mercenaries.

Last week, Russia had accused USA-based anonymous hackers and provocateurs who it said were sympathetic to Ukraine of launching massive cyberattacks against Russian government institutions, media outlets, and critical infrastructure. Russia had also warned of grave consequences for those responsible.

Earlier in March, Israel and China also faced massive cyber attacks paralyzing their government websites and critical infrastructure. A few months back, a leading Israeli newspaper had reported a cyberattack had taken down the websites of key government ministries and Digital judicial portals. It termed the alleged cyberattacks the largest-ever cyber attack in Israel’s history.

Similarly, China also faced massive cyberattacks earlier this month. However, China’s foreign ministry quickly blamed the US for sponsoring the attacks. Referring to the US as a hacking empire, China even accused the Western Nation “of using Chinese networks as a springboard to launch cyberattacks on Russia and its allies, reported RT.

The US is not the first country to launch a dedicated cybersecurity bureau. Most countries, including Russia, China, India, etc, have dedicated response teams to handle the cyber security of their critical digital infrastructure assets.

For instance, in India, Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) is a nodal agency that monitors cyber threats to the country.

India has also created a National Cyber Security Coordinator post attached to the Prime Minister’s office to handle cyber threats when they arise.

Further, the Information Technology Act of 2000 and the National Cyber Security Policy 2013 also provide a policy framework to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to protect the public and private infrastructure from cyberattacks and safeguard information, such as personal information (of web users), financial and banking information and sovereign data.

CERT-In is the nodal agency that monitors cyber threats in the country. The National Cyber Security Coordinator post has also been created in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

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