The US launches National Cybersecurity Strategy and other  cybersecurity news to know this month

US President Joe Biden visits the Cybersecurity Lab at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
US President Joe Biden visits the Cybersecurity Lab at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
Image: REUTERS/Leah Millis
  • This monthly round-up brings you key cybersecurity stories from the past month.
  • Top cybersecurity news: Biden announces US national cybersecurity strategy; Countries ban TikTok on government devices amid cybersecurity concerns; Australian firms targeted by cyberattacks.

1. Biden announces national cybersecurity strategy

The White House has announced a new cybersecurity strategy in the latest effort by the US government to bolster its cyber defences amid a steady increase in hacking and digital crimes targeting the country.

The strategy, which is intended to guide future policy, urges tighter regulation of existing cybersecurity practices across industries and improved collaboration between the government and private sector.

It seeks to broadly improve industry accountability over the cybersecurity of American critical infrastructure, such as hospitals and dams.

The Biden administration has also announced a new plan to improve the digital defences of public water systems.

The water system plan, which recommends a series of rules placing more responsibility for securing water facilities at state level, follows several high-profile hacking incidents in recent years.

Proposed budget of the US government for cybersecurity in FY 2017 to 2023.
The US cybersecurity budget has fluctuated in recent years.
Image: Statista

2. Countries move to ban TikTok on government devices

New Zealand has become the latest nation to limit use of the video-sharing app TikTok on devices with access to the parliamentary network, amid cybersecurity concerns.

As of 20 March, 10 economies had taken steps to ban the app, including the US and UK, which has banned TikTok on government phones with immediate effect.

The UK government asked the National Cyber Security Centre to look at the potential vulnerability of government data from social media apps and risks around how sensitive information could be accessed and used.

The US government's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a powerful national security body, in 2020 unanimously recommended ByteDance divest TikTok because of fears that user data could be passed on to China's government.

In early March, legislators from both major US parties introduced a bill to ban the app in the United States. Congress previously passed a bill in December 2022 to ban TikTok on federal devices.

TikTok said on 20 March the app now has 150 million monthly active users in the US, up from 100 million in 2020.

In late February, the European Union's two biggest policy-making institutions – the European Commission and the EU Council – banned TikTok from staff phones for cybersecurity reasons.

3. News in brief: Top cybersecurity stories this month

One of Australia's top government bureaucrats has demanded Russia crack down on the large number of cybercriminals operating in the country, saying their actions posed a threat to national security. Canberra is currently reforming its cybersecurity policy following a raft of cyberattacks on some of the country's largest companies.

The move comes after more Australian firms were targeted with cyberattacks. Actions targeting digital payments and lending firm Latitude Group Holdings bring the total number of attacks to 12 since September 2022.

The top US markets regulator has proposed a suite of new policies designed to harden the financial system against hacking, data theft and systems failure. The Securities and Exchange Commission's five members voted at a public meeting to propose rules on protecting consumer financial data, preventing hacking at stock exchanges and broker-dealers, and buttressing the resiliency of market infrastructure.

China has announced plans for a national data bureau, describing it as part of an effort to coordinate data resources in the country and to achieve a vision of "digital China" conceived by President Xi Jinping. Analysts at Chinese investment bank Citic Securities say areas to watch include data processing and data encryption.

Experts are warning that cybercriminals and scammers are taking advantage of the urgent need for aid in south-eastern Türkiye and north-western Syria, following the devastating earthquake in February – launching fake online donation platforms and charities to swindle donors out of their money.

4. More on cybersecurity on Agenda

President Joe Biden's new National Cybersecurity Strategy outlines steps the government is taking to secure cyberspace and build a resilient digital ecosystem that is easier to defend than attack – and that is open and safe for all. Here's an in-depth look at the plan, including how the World Economic Forum's cybersecurity efforts support the priorities identified.

In a fast-evolving digital ecosystem, decision-makers in government, industry, academia and civil society need to anticipate and address tomorrow’s cybersecurity challenges to stay ahead of the curve. We've identified seven key insights, tensions, and trade-offs that will likely shape the future of cybersecurity and that can help an organization better prepare to face cyberthreats.

In this era of "polycrisis" with renewed threats from growing geopolitical tensions, achieving cyber-resilience is one of the biggest cybersecurity challenges: it is not a one-time or a one-actor effort, a harmonized approach that stretches across borders and businesses is necessary.

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