Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday approved the stand up of a new bureau to hone the department’s diplomatic focus on international cyber security issues.
The Bureau of Cyberspace Security and Emerging Technologies (CSET) “will lead U.S. government diplomatic efforts on a wide range of international cyberspace security and emerging technology policy issues that affect U.S. foreign policy and national security, including securing cyberspace and critical technologies, reducing the likelihood of cyber conflict, and prevailing in strategic cyber competition,” the State Department said in a statement.
The statement said that the department notified Congress in June 2019 that it would create CSET.
The standup of the new bureau is in line with a recommendation last year by the bipartisan Cyberspace Solarium Commission that said “Congress should create and adequately resource” the CSET and head it with an Assistant Secretary of State. Pompeo’s announcement also follows on the heels of the recently disclosed hack of a number of government agencies, including the Department of Justice (DoJ), and private companies that the U.S. government says was likely done by Russian actors.
A DoJ spokesman on Wednesday issued a statement that the cyber intrusion gained access to the department’s Microsoft [MSFT] Office 365 email “environment,” accessing about 3 percent of the email boxes. The department described the hack as a “major incident under the Federal Information Security Modernization Act.”
The State Department statement said the need for CSET “is critical, as the challenges to U.S. national security presented by China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and other cyber and emerging technology competitors and adversaries” have increased in the last 18 months.
President Trump’s first Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, in 2017 eliminated the department’s Office of the Coordinator for Cyber and transferred its staff and resources to the Bureau of Economic & Business Affairs. The office had been led by Chris Painter, who resigned in July of that year after Tillerson first announced his plan to dissolve it. At the time, the office was the department’s lead on U.S. cyber diplomacy.