Monday, 28 Nov 2022

Antony Blinkens Silicon Valley visit underscores US cybersecurity concerns

Antony Blinkens Silicon Valley visit underscores US cybersecurity concerns


Antony Blinkens Silicon Valley visit underscores US cybersecurity concerns

The US secretary of state visited Silicon Valley this week, on a trip that experts say highlights the Biden administration's growing concerns over cybersecurity and officials' push to collaborate more closely with the US's powerful tech industry.

Antony Blinken on Monday spoke at Stanford University and was scheduled to meet with tech executives to "highlight the key role for technology diplomacy in advancing US economic and national security", according to the state department.

The department shared few other details about the visit, and did not respond to a request for comment. But experts said national security concerns including the growing threat of cyberwar and potential foreign interference in upcoming elections were almost certain to be on the agenda.

US administrations have long interfaced with the tech world, but amid the ongoing brutal war in Ukraine, Blinken's visit comes at "an incredibly tense time internationally", said Theresa Payton, cybersecurity expert and former White House chief information officer.

"Every presidential office since the beginning of the internet has tried to do outreach to Silicon Valley, some more successfully than others" she said. "But the war in Ukraine has created a critical tipping point in the need for collaboration."

In the last year, Russian hackers have carried out several cyber-attacks on Ukraine, including one in January that temporarily brought down more than 70 government websites. The scope of Moscow's cyberwarfare against Ukraine and its allies has been smaller than analysts predicted at the onset of the war, but experts have warned that as the conflict wears on, and Russia's losing streak on the ground continues, the risk of more comprehensive and catastrophic state-directed cyber-attacks grows.

"The state department is likely considering what Putin's plan B would be, and attempting to get ahead of it by meeting with Silicon Valley," Payton said. "There are concerns that such an attack could wreak havoc internationally as well as on American businesses."

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