Security experts are calling for Fick's early confirmation as the first US cyber ambassador

Security experts are calling for Fick’s early confirmation as the first US cyber ambassador | Pro Club Bd

Written by Suzanne Smalley

A bipartisan group of 106 national security experts, former government officials and industry leaders sent a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday endorsing Nate Fick as the State Department’s first ambassador for cyberspace and digital policy, according to a copy of the letter obtained by CyberScoop.

“The new ambassador must be able to forge diverse economic, military and political coalitions to advance our national interests and protect our nation in cyberspace,” read the letter, which was sent a day before Fick’s nomination to the committee hearing on Wednesday. “Nate has personally experienced these challenges as a war fighter, policy maker and business leader, and he is an inspirational leader and communicator.”

The letter highlighted the cyber threats facing the US and said Fick’s unique resume will be valuable for an ambassador who needs to focus on “building bridges across borders and also with private industry, and also helping our government.” able to crack down on their opponents. We are trying to establish real deterrence in cyberspace.”

Signatories include Keith Alexander, former director of the National Security Agency; Dmitri Alperovitch, Chair, Silverado Policy Accelerator; Robert J. Butler, former Assistant Secretary of Defense; Richard Danzig, former Secretary of the Navy; Paula Dobriansky, a former Secretary of State at the State Department; and several officials from cybersecurity companies, among many others.

“The timely intervention of the Senate on this nomination is important given the growing range of cyber threats, including from nations like China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, as well as non-state and state-affiliated actors like the Russian ransomware gangs,” said the organizer of the letter, Jamil Jaffer, opposite CyberScoop. Jaffer is the founder and executive director of the National Security Institute at George Mason University Law School and was previously Chief Counsel of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

If confirmed, Fick will assume a role overseeing three policy channels dedicated to cybersecurity, communications and information, and digital freedom. The Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy, which Fick would take on, is an expanded effort that builds on a smaller and more diffuse cybersecurity portfolio at State. The office now has about 60 employees and will add 30 more this year.

If confirmed, Fick will be accused of “building bridges across borders and also with private industry, and may likewise help our government crack down on their opponents as we seek to establish a real deterrent in cyberspace.”

Letter from 106 former government officials, industry leaders and others supporting Nate Fick for the role of State Department Cyber ​​Ambassador

While the State Department has focused on countering Russian aggression in cyberspace, former State Cyber ​​Ambassador Chris Painter told CyberScoop that the escalating cyber threats surrounding the Ukraine war made it imperative that Fick confirm quickly will. He said it’s been two years since a senior official oversaw the state’s cyber portfolio, and that’s too long a time to have a job vacancy, especially when the US faces urgent cyber threats.

“The world looks to the US to engage, lead and work with them on things like building collective action against common threats,” Painter said. “These threats will only increase [now] and it’s not like we can just sit on our hands and wait.”

painter pointed out the possibility of Russian cyber reprisals against the US and other countries that have supported Ukraine. “It makes a difference to have a political appointee [at the helm of State’s cybersecurity efforts] who can really do a lot more openly and give them a lot more pizzazz.

He said Fick’s existing relationships with National Cyber ​​Director Chris Inglis and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Director Jen Easterly will also be beneficial.

Fick’s recent efforts to lead a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) task force report focused on cyberspace foreign policy for a fragmented internet impressed CrowdStrike founder Dmitri Alperovitch, who now leads the Silverado Policy Accelerator.

Alperovitch said the CFR report’s “prominent declaration that the free and open internet, the idea the US has been promoting for 30 years, is dead,” impressed him not only because he thinks it’s the current reality reflects, but also because it shows that Fick is “obviously not afraid of taking somewhat controversial positions.”

He said Fick’s experience as CEO of cybersecurity firm Endgame will be particularly helpful in the state’s role, as the company has been a key player working on both offensive and defensive cybersecurity strategies.

“He certainly understands both sides of the aisle in cyberspace,” Alperovitch said. “Nate is a great combination of politics, national security and cybersecurity industry experience.”

Alperovitch told CyberScoop the State Department needs a strong leader to ensure that “our allies continually resist major entanglements with China” and ensure other nations “reduce their reliance on technology like China.” [Chinese technology company] Huawei. You need an ambassador-level position at State to continue spreading that message.”

According to a source with direct knowledge of the cyber office’s development, the State Department decided to continue to focus staff on so-called “online freedom” in the existing Office for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. This fact has created general unease among the online freedom community, concerned about how much attention the new cyber ambassador will devote to his issues.

While the US still has a long way to go to perfect its cybersecurity stance, “tough cyber issues” should not overshadow equally important digital freedom and digital economy efforts, said Graham Brookie, the director of the Atlantic’s Digital Forensic Research Lab council said CyberScoop.

“In the other two policy areas, digital economy and digital freedom, we have the least articulated policies and most opportunities for leadership anywhere in the world,” Brookie said. “Therefore, ensuring that we have a coherent approach to all three at the same time and explicitly showing how they are interconnected and mutually reinforcing is a major opportunity for the United States.”

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