Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity a key bilateral issue for White House, and not just with China

The Justice Department's indictment last month of five Chinese military officers for alleged cyber-espionage sent a shockwave through Sino-American relations, surprising some cybersecurity experts and leaving all to divine Washington's next move on the issue.

China reacted furiously, canceling a bilateral cyber working group and, through its state media, labeling U.S. tech firms like Facebook and Microsoft threats to state security. But a senior White House official is sanguine on the prospects of China rejoining the dialogue and points to recent cooperation with the Australian government as evidence of the administration's intent in global cyberspace.

A summary of U.S.-Australia relations issued by the White House last week included a generic sentence about improving cooperation on "cyber defense and cybersecurity incident response." The Obama administration sees Australia's cybersecurity capabilities as steadily maturing and will look to the two countries' computer emergency response teams (CERTs) to share cyber-threat information, the White House official told FCW in a June 16 interview.

The United States "has been trying to increase cooperation in these areas with likeminded countries across the board," the official added. Cybersecurity collaboration is intuitive for the United States with allies like Australia, with which the U.S. shares a common language and similar legal systems, the official noted.

Cybersecurity has also emerged as a theme in U.S. relations with its neighbors. A joint statement of the defense ministers of Canada, Mexico and the United States in April pledged to "share information regarding cyber defense challenges and approaches to address them."

In the coming months, the White House will "continue to press on the international norms piece," the official said. There is likely no one global treaty that would compel China to cease its alleged cyber-espionage, but the White House hopes to clarify international cybersecurity norms through consensus-building with Australia and other allies.

The White House official cited speeches from President Barack Obama at West Point and National Security Advisor Susan Rice at the Center for New American Security as indicators that developing global norms in cyberspace is a "strong theme for the administration," adding that the administration could "make some more concrete statements on that in the next few months."

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.

Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.

Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.


The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group