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New DoD cyber strategy tags Russia, China as top threats

Sailors stand watch in the Fleet Operations Center at the headquarters of US Fleet Cyber Command/US Tenth Fleet (FCC/C10F). (US Navy)

Potential cyber attacks by China and Russia against the United States and its allies continue to be one of the pre-eminent threat facing the US Department of Defense (DoD), according to the Pentagon's latest cyber strategy.

The classified version of the 2023 DoD Cyber Strategy was sent to US congressional lawmakers on 26 May, according to an unclassified fact sheet on the key aspects of the strategy issued by the Pentagon on the same day.

The new strategy supersedes the earlier version issued by the DoD in 2018, and many of the tenets within the new cyber strategy fall in line with the 2023 National Cybersecurity Strategy issued by the White House in March 2023. The Pentagon is expected to release an unclassified version of the strategy in the coming weeks, DoD officials wrote in the fact sheet.

“Since 2018, the [US] Department [of Defense] has conducted a number of significant cyberspace operations through its policy of defending forward, actively disrupting malicious cyber activity before it can affect the US homeland,” according to the fact sheet. The biggest influence in the new cyber strategy has been lessons learned from Russia's invasion and occupation of Ukraine, beginning in February 2022.

DoD analysis of Russian-led cyber-warfare operations during the Ukraine war “has demonstrated how cyber capabilities may be used in large-scale conventional conflict [and] these experiences have shaped the department's approach to the cyber domain”, DoD officials wrote.

“Russia poses an acute threat in cyberspace, evidenced by its malign influence efforts against the United States and repeated cyber attacks against Ukrainian civilian critical infrastructure,” they added.

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