The US government has launched the Disruptive Technology Strike Force, a collaboration of US law enforcement led by the Justice and Commerce Department, to stop hostile states gaining access to critical US technology.
The law enforcement initiative is a response to the growing sophistication of cyber attacks by rogue nation-states, said deputy attorney general Lisa O Monaco.
The US deputy attorney general said that there was a “new, blended, double threat” where nation-states are acting hand in hand with criminal groups, leading to attacks that are ever more “sophisticated, brazen and dangerous”.
The collaboration follows the launch of the alleged Chinese spy balloon, which was shot down off the coast of South Carolina on 4 February.
The US sees the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as aa particular threat. Its culture of “civil-military fusion” and its national security law requires any Chinese company with military application to make its data accessible to the government.
Monaco cautioned against the social media company TikTok, saying that the ability to weaponise data is on the rise as artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithms enable the use of large datasets in increasingly sophisticated ways.
In 2020, the US government’s Committee on Foreign investment in the United States (CFIUS) ordered Chinese company ByteDance to divest TikTok because of fears of information sharing with the RPC’s government.
Last autumn, President Joe Biden signed the “Chips Act”, which has the stated aim of giving the US leadership in global chip production. The act restricts the transfer of technology where the transfers pose a risk to national security.
The US Commerce Department said it “had imposed new export controls on advanced computing and semiconductor components, cracking down on the PRC’s ability to acquire certain high-end chips”.
The US Department of Justice had concentrated its efforts to combat cyber crime and sanctions evasion.
The department has also updated its regulatory tools to ensure protection against foreign investments in US companies for potential national security risks, screening foreign investment in US companies for potential national security risks.
Monaco said that the Disruptive Technology Strike Force, which will identify early warning of threats to US critical assets, is essential to defend national security and the rule of law. The Department of Justice is pouring in resources to respond to nation-states which would exploit technology for its own interests.