US State Department Creates Bureau to Tackle Digital Threats
October 28, 2021
The State Department is creating a new Bureau of Cyberspace and
Digital Policy to focus on tackling cybersecurity challenges at
a time of growing threats from opponents. There will also be a
new special envoy for critical and emerging technology, who will
lead the technology diplomacy agenda with U.S. allies.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the
organizational changes underscore the need for a robust approach
for dealing with cyber threats.
"We want to make sure technology works for democracy, fighting
back against disinformation, standing up for internet freedom,
and reducing the misuse of surveillance technology," Blinken
said in a speech on modernizing American diplomacy.
Blinken said the new bureau will be led by an
ambassador-at-large. The chief U.S. diplomat is also seeking a
50% increase in State Department's information technology
The announcement comes as hackers backed by foreign governments,
such as Russia and China, continue to attack U.S.
infrastructures and global technology systems to steal sensitive
Earlier this year, the Office of the Director of National
Intelligence said that more countries are relying on cyber
operations to steal information, influence populations and
damage industry, but the U.S. is most concerned about Russia,
China, Iran and North Korea.
The U.S. technology giant Microsoft said on Monday that the same
Russia-backed hackers responsible for the 2020 SolarWinds breach
of corporate computer systems are continuing to attack global
technology systems, this time targeting cloud service resellers.
A senior State Department official told reporters on Wednesday
that Washington has been clear with Moscow that cyber criminals
targeting the U.S. is "not acceptable." The United States has
asked the Russian government to "take action against that type
of criminal behavior."
Confronting cyberattacks continues to be "a high priority" in
U.S. relations with Russia, the senior official said.
is also considered to be one of the United States' main cyber
adversaries, having coordinated teams both inside and outside of
the government conducting cyberespionage campaigns that were
large-scale and indiscriminate, according to analysts.
Over the past year, experts have attributed notable hacks in the
U.S., Europe and Asia to China's Ministry of State Security, the
nation's civilian intelligence agency, which has taken the lead
in Beijing's cyberespionage, consolidating efforts by the
People's Liberation Army.
In addition to expanding the State Department's capacity on
cybersecurity, Blinken also unveiled other steps to modernize
American diplomacy, including the launch of a new "policy ideas
channel" that allows American diplomats to share their policy
ideas directly with senior leadership, building and retaining a
diverse workforce, as well as a plan to "reinvigorate the
in-person diplomacy and public engagement."
The organization changes to beef up resources and staffers to
tackle international cybersecurity challenges came after the
State Department completed an extensive review of cyberspace and