By Chris Carney
As President Biden and policymakers ready a response to the “proliferation of cyberattacks by rivals” like Russia and China, I encourage them to likewise craft a smart regulatory approach for space – one that doesn’t just recognize the importance of America’s global leadership role in technology but serves to reinforce it. The urgency of doing so is only underscored by the context in which the SolarWinds and Microsoft attacks appear: a staggering 400 percent increase in ever-sophisticated intrusions threatening organizations’ cybersecurity across the globe during the previous two years combined. Per CrowdStrike’s new global threat report, “hacking efforts by both cybercriminals and state-sponsored groups grew in 2020 and are unlikely to let up in 2021.”
One such approach Washington would be wise to adopt: the American Edge Project’s new national security policy framework, whose solutions were shaped by decades of experience and expertise of contributing authors Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret.) and former White House Counterterrorism and Homeland Security Advisor Frances Townsend. The report, which details the profound security risks of policies that relinquish our country’s competitive tech edge to foreign entities with diametrically different values, calls for the creation of the architecture necessary for U.S. digital power. In addition, the report outlines three pillars as an initial framework to deploy that power – and thereby preserve American technology’s edge.
While the United States has traditionally benefitted from a blend of tactics that range from the military might of hard power to the delicate diplomatic maneuvers of soft power, a new approach is needed to advance our country’s national security interests amid escalating cyberconflict the world over. Digital power, as the authors write will in turn “empower American technology innovation and promote it globally as a way to defend our interests and advance our values in the competition between ‘techno-democracies’ like the U.S., European Union (EU), Japan, and other democratic allies, and ‘techno-autocracies’ like Russia and China.” Digital power, therefore, is a critical means by which our country can make certain that such precious cyberspace is never ceded to those with such pernicious intentions; that a virtual vacuum is never created – and certainly never filled by foreign adversaries. And its deployment can be achieved through the three foregoing pillars of protecting the ability to innovate, securing U.S. cyber and data, and advancing a democratic and open internet.