(Reuters) — The White House on Thursday announced a new cybersecurity strategy in the latest effort by the U.S. government to bolster its cyber defenses amid a steady increase in hacking and digital crimes targeting the country.
The strategy, which is intended to guide future policy, calls for stricter regulation of existing cybersecurity practices across industries and improved collaboration between government and the private sector.
It comes after a series of high-profile hacking incidents by domestic and foreign actors against the United States and amid the military conflict between Russia and Ukraine, where cyber warfare has featured prominently.
The strategy names China and Russia as the most prominent cybersecurity threats to the United States. On a call with reporters, a US official who declined to be named said part of the new strategy was aimed at reining in Russian hackers.
“Russia serves as a de facto haven for cybercrime, and ransomware is a dominant issue that we deal with today,”; the official said.
Ransomware attacks, where cybercriminal gangs take control of a target’s system and demand a ransom, are among the most common types of cyberattacks and have affected a wide range of industries in recent years.
“The criminal justice system will not be able to tackle this problem on its own – we need to look at other areas of national power,” the official added. “So we are hopeful that Russia understands the consequences of malicious activity in cyberspace and will continue to be restrained.”
The strategy calls for building coalitions with foreign partners “to create pressure on Russia and other malign actors to change their behavior,” said a second U.S. official on the call, who also declined to be named.
“I think we’ve seen some success in maintaining these coalitions over the last year,” the official added.
Among other things, the strategy calls for improved standards for patching vulnerabilities in computer systems and implementing an executive order that would require cloud companies to verify the identities of foreign customers.