White House Releases First National Cyber Strategy in 15 Years


The first new National Cyber Strategy in 15 years is built on four pillars: protecting the American people, the homeland and the American way of life; promoting American prosperity; preserving peace through strength; and advancing American influence.

Military cyber experts meet in a conference room.
Cyber professionals discuss best practices for cyber protection teams during Cyber Protection Team Conference 18-1 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, June 27, 2018. U.S. Cyber Command cyber protection teams defend national and Defense Department networks and systems against threats. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. R.J. Biermann
Military cyber experts meet in a conference room.
Cyber conference
Cyber professionals discuss best practices for cyber protection teams during Cyber Protection Team Conference 18-1 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, June 27, 2018. U.S. Cyber Command cyber protection teams defend national and Defense Department networks and systems against threats. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. R.J. Biermann
Photo By: ech. Sgt. R.J. Biermann
VIRIN: 180627-F-ND912-0013A

“We cannot ignore the costs of malicious cyber activity — economic or otherwise — directed at America’s government, businesses and private individuals,” President Donald J. Trump said in a statement yesterday announcing the new strategy. “Guided by this [strategy], the federal government will be better equipped to protect the American people, the American homeland, and the American way of life.

“Through it,” he continued, “we will accomplish critical security objectives while supporting American prosperity, preserving peace through strength and advancing American influence. Informed by the strategy’s guidance, federal departments and agencies will more effectively execute their missions to make America cyber secure.”

DoD’s Role

The strategy highlights the critical and growing threat that malicious cyber actors pose to U.S. national security. “The Defense Department stands ready, as part of the synchronized whole-of-government approach articulated in the National Cyber Strategy, to preserve peace through strength by identifying, countering, disrupting, degrading and deterring behavior in cyberspace that is destabilizing and contrary to U.S. national interests,” DoD officials said in a statement, adding that the department's focus is on preserving U.S. superiority in cyberspace and defending forward to disrupt the activities of malicious cyber actors before they reach U.S. networks.

DoD also is strengthening its defensive posture through network hardening, improved cybersecurity and working with its international allies and partners, in addition to its Defense Industrial Base and Defense Critical Infrastructure partners to secure critical information and infrastructure, the Pentagon statement noted.

Protecting America’s Networks

Officials said the strategy will:

-- Protect American networks by securing federal networks and information and the nation’s critical infrastructure;

-- Combat cybercrime and improve incident reporting;

-- Promote American prosperity by fostering a vibrant and resilient digital economy;

-- Protect American ingenuity from threats such as intellectual property theft;

-- Develop a superior cybersecurity workforce through education and recruitment; and

-- Stand up to destabilizing behavior in cyberspace by promoting responsible behavior among nation states, working to ensure consequences exist for irresponsible cyber behavior, launching an international Cyber Deterrence Initiative and exposing and countering online malign influence and information campaigns.

The National Cyber Strategy will promote an open and secure internet by encouraging other nations to advance internet freedom and advance a multi-stakeholder model of internet governance, officials said, and also will promote open, interoperable, reliable and secure communications infrastructure in addition to opening overseas markets for American ingenuity and building international cyber capacity.

Protecting the People, Homeland, Way of Life

The strategy notes that pursuing the objectives of the first pillar will require the U.S. government, private industry and the public to take immediate and decisive actions to strengthen cybersecurity, with each working on securing the networks under their control and supporting each other as appropriate.

For the government’s part in that effort, the strategy says, the administration will act to further enable the Department of Homeland Security to secure federal department and agency networks, with the exception of national security systems and Defense Department and Intelligence Community systems.

The government also will align its risk-management and information technology technologies, improve risk management in the federal supply chain, strengthen federal contractor cybersecurity, and ensure the government leads in best and innovative practices.

Promoting American Prosperity

The strategy’s second pillar seeks to preserve U.S. influence in the technological ecosystem and the development of cyberspace as an open engine of economic growth, innovation and efficiency.

To enhance the resilience of cyberspace, the administration expects the technology marketplace to support and reward the continuous development, adoption and evolution of innovative security technologies and processes and will work across stakeholder groups, including the private sector and civil society, to promote best practices and develop strategies to overcome market barriers to the adoption of secure technologies.

Preserving Peace Through Strength

Challenges to U.S. security and economic interests from nation states and other groups, which have long existed in the offline world, are now increasingly occurring in cyberspace, the new strategy notes, adding that this now-persistent engagement in cyberspace is altering the strategic balance of power.

As part of the National Cybersecurity Strategy’s third pillar, cyberspace will no longer be treated as a separate category of policy or activity disjointed from other elements of national power. The United States will integrate the employment of cyber options across every element of national power to Identify, counter, disrupt, degrade and deter behavior in cyberspace that is destabilizing and contrary to national interests, while preserving United States overmatch in and through cyberspace.

Advancing American Influence

In outlining its fourth pillar, the strategy says the world looks to the United States, where much of the innovation for today’s internet originated, for leadership on a vast range of transnational cyber issues.

The United States will maintain an active international leadership posture to advance American influence and to address an expanding array of threats and challenges to its interests in cyberspace, the strategy says. Collaboration with allies and partners is part of this pillar, which the strategy says is essential to ensuring continued benefit from cross-border communications, content creation and commerce generated by the internet’s open, interoperable architecture.

This pillar’s objective, the strategy says, is to preserve the internet’s long-term openness, interoperability, security, and reliability, which supports and is reinforced by U.S. interests.

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)