National Security Strategy and Cyber

Dec 19th, 2017 cyber policy, Trump

Yesterday, President Trump released his National Security Strategy with the theme “America First.”  The strategy consists of four main pillars:  I. Protect the American People, The Homeland, and The American Way of Life; II. Promote American Prosperity; III. Preserve Peace Through Strength; IV. Advance American Influence. Each of those pillars contained policy objectives and specific “priority actions” designed to help achieve them.

One of the four objectives in Pillar I is to “Keep America Safe in the Cyber Era.”  The strategy acknowledges the threats that exist to critical infrastructure, federal networks, and security for both businesses and individuals in the private sector.  The strategy identifies the nation’s cyber capabilities as determinative of its future: “America’s response to the challenges and opportunities of the cyber era will determine our future prosperity and security.” The priority actions for the cyber tenet of Pillar I, which are explained more fully in the document below, are:

  • Identify and Prioritize Risk
  • Build Defensible Government Networks
  • Deter and Disrupt Malicious Cyber Actors
  • Improve Information Sharing and Sensing
  • Deploy Layered Defenses

All of those are laudable goals and logically sound steps to achieving cyber security. But, it is much easier said than done.

One of the goals in Pillar II is to “Lead in Research, Technology, Invention, and Innovation.” This includes the U.S. “prioritiz[ing] emerging technologies critical to economic growth and security, such as data science, encryption, autonomous technologies, . . . advanced computing technologies, and artificial intelligence. From self-driving cars to autonomous weapons, the field of artificial intelligence, in particular, is progressing rapidly.”

Another goal of Pillar II is to “Promote and Protect the U.S. National Security Innovation Base,” which emphasizes protecting U.S. intellectual property from nations such as China. Although not explicit in the strategy itself, this implicates cyber security.

Pillar III includes the objective to “Renew Capabilities,” including those in cyberspace. “Malicious state and non-state actors use cyberattacks for extortion, information warfare, disinformation, and  more. . . . The United States will deter, defend, and when necessary defeat malicious actors who use cyberspace capabilities against the United States. When faced with the opportunity to take action against malicious actors in cyberspace, the United States will be risk informed, but not risk averse, in considering our options.”

Priority Actions for renewing cyber capability, whose full explanations are again in the document below, include:

  • Improve Attribution, Accountability, and Response
  • Enhance Cyber Tools and Expertise
  • Improve Integration and Agility

Although it has no dedicated section of its own, the strategy references the critical value of information and information operations in the modern era.

Finally, Pillar IV focuses on increasing American influence. The first cyber related Priority Action in this section is to “Ensure Common Domains Remain Free” which states that actions in several domains, including cyberspace, must comply with international law.

The second priority is to “Protect a Free and Open Internet.” The strategy explains that “[t]he United States will advocate for open, interoperable communications, with minimal barriers to the global exchange of information and services. The United States will promote the free flow of data and protect its interests through active engagement in key organizations, such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), the UN, and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).”





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Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic. Full biography

Shelby E. Mann

Ryan D. WhiteShelby is a second year law student at the Syracuse University College of Law. She is the 2018-9 Editor in Chief of the Syracuse Law Review, as well as a member of the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and the senior editor for the Syrian Accountability Project. During her final year at the University of Missouri, she served as a full-time news producer for ABC 17 News. Shelby spent her first summer of law school at the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office in Memphis, Tenn., in the Public Corruption and Economic Crimes Unit. Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

Anna Maria Castillois 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography


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