U.S. coordinates 30-nation meeting to seek joint response to Russian and Chinese cyber extortion

The White House announced that ministerial and other senior officials from nearly 30 countries and international organizations, led and coordinated by the National Security Council, will hold videoconferences on Wednesday (Oct. 13, 2021) and Thursday to jointly address cyber extortion.

At a background briefing Tuesday, a senior Biden administration official said that over the past several months, the United States has worked with allies and partner nations to hold accountable those engaging in malicious cyber behavior and has identified Russia and the Chinese Communist Party as perpetrators of malicious cyber operations with the broadest international support; next, the United States will join senior officials from 30 countries and the European Union to discuss ways to accelerate cooperation in combating cyber extortion.

The United States has long accused the Chinese Communist Party of “irresponsible and destabilizing behavior” in cyberspace, but Beijing has never admitted to any cyberattacks against any country or person, claiming that China itself has been a victim of cyberattacks.

Earlier this year, a number of U.S. businesses suffered cyber attacks and cyber extortion that affected energy and food supplies in parts of the United States. Subsequently, the United States and its European and Asia-Pacific allies issued an unprecedented joint statement on July 19 of this year exposing what they said were malicious cyberattacks perpetrated by China’s Ministry of State Security against the United States and multiple allies, including the hiring of criminals by DSS personnel to commit cyber extortion against private companies for personal gain.

This joint international effort adds credibility and strength to the U.S. accusations against China in this regard. The Biden administration said the multi-national effort to accuse the Chinese government of malicious cyber behavior shows that Beijing’s cyber behavior not only undermines U.S. security and interests, but also threatens the economic and national security of several countries around the world.

At Tuesday’s background briefing, the senior U.S. official also emphasized that the international video conference to address cyber extortion is not hosted by the United States, which is only playing a lead and coordinating role, and that Japan, Australia, Germany and the United States will each lead discussions on different topics during the two-day conference.

The official also said that since President Biden spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this year about cyber extortion, there has been some aggressive action on Moscow’s part to deal with it, but did not mention whether Beijing has made any efforts.

Last week, National Cybersecurity Agency Director Rob Joyce said during an appearance at a cybersecurity industry conference that his agency’s future efforts would focus on responding to cyber attacks on the United States by countries such as China, including cyber intrusions against sophisticated U.S. weaponry and sensitive technology, as well as those targeting U.S. non-military targets for cyber extortion.

Joyce singled out China’s ability to conduct high-end cyberattack operations, and the future focus of the National Cyber Security Agency will remain on enhancing preparedness, including protecting sophisticated U.S. weaponry and sensitive military technology, and improving encryption of information data.