Harris calls for global action on cyber threats after US joins international effort

Associated Press/Christophe Ena
U.S Vice President Kamala Harris delivers a speech during the Paris Peace Forum, in Paris, Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. Some world leaders and internet giants are expected to issue a global call to better protect children online during a Paris summit of about 30 heads of state and government, including U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris. 

Vice President Harris on Thursday called on global leaders to work together to counter cybersecurity threats and protect an open internet following a turbulent year of major cyberattacks. 

Her remarks came the day after Harris committed the United States to signing on to the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace. 

The initiative, announced by French President Emmanuel Macron in 2018, is backed by more than 80 countries, dozens of public authorities and local governments and more than 700 private sector groups, with the aim of strengthening global cooperation to tackle cyber threats. 

“Gathered here tonight — leaders of government, business, and civil society — at the start of this new era, we are all pioneers, standing together in the dynamism of the present, on the brink of the unknown,” Harris said during remarks at a panel discussion on digital and technology challenges in Paris. 

‘It is up to us — all of us — to strengthen our nations and protect our citizens,” Harris said. “It is up to us — all of us — to realize the opportunities of technology and minimize the threats. In a world that is more interconnected and interdependent, let us go forward together.”

President Biden issued an executive order in May intended to strengthen federal cybersecurity, and major funding for cyber risks was included in the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package passed by Congress. 

“The Biden-Harris administration is committed to working to advance security in cyberspace, to promote stability in cyberspace, and to ensure shared prosperity,” Harris said. 

The Biden administration has also called out foreign nations for recent attacks. In April, Biden decided to levy sanctions on Russia in retaliation for last year’s SolarWinds hack, which compromised nine federal agencies. 

“Together with other nations, our administration has named those responsible for malicious cyber activity,” she said. “I firmly believe that there must be consequence whenever security and stability are being threatened in cyberspace.”

Her remarks came hours after Harris gave a separate speech at the Paris Peace Forum at which she urged world leaders to address world inequality, particularly following challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The speech Thursday came after the U.S. and France announced efforts on Wednesday to strengthen cybersecurity, space security, address climate change, and expand access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.

Harris was not the only administration official in Europe this week to address cybersecurity concerns. 

The White House announced Wednesday that Anne Neuberger, the deputy national security adviser for Cyber and Emerging Technology, had spent three days this week in Brussels meeting with European Union officials, members of the European Parliament and the North Atlantic Council at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. 

The meetings were meant to increase international cooperation in confronting cyber threats including ransomware attacks, which have been in the spotlight increasingly this year following attacks on Colonial Pipeline and meat producer JBS USA in May. 

“Neuberger’s trip builds on the Biden Administration’s ongoing work to build international cooperation to tackle cyber threats,” Emily Horne, the spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, said in a statement Wednesday.

Tags anne neuberger Colonial Pipeline cyber attacks cybersecurity Emmanuel Macron France International relations JBS attack Joe Biden sanctions

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