John Bolton
John Bolton Reuters

US National Security Adviser John Bolton on Thursday said that American citizens and their allies suffer daily attacks in cyberspace.

Speaking in a press briefing on National Cyber Strategy, Bolton said, "Americans and our allies are under attack every day in cyberspace."

"Malicious nation-state, criminal, and terrorist actors seek to steal our intellectual property and our personal information, damage our infrastructure, and even undermine our democracy through the use of cyber tools."

Bolton noted WannaCry and NotPetya as examples of cyberattacks targeting businesses,and which caused billions in damage. However, he noted that, "it's not just businesses that fall victim to cyber threats."

"This past March, the city of Atlanta was hit, forcing mission-critical services offline for months, and causing millions of dollars in damage. Americans living there couldn’t perform basic online tasks with local government, like paying water bills and parking tickets."

"America invented the Internet," Bolton emphasized. "It has brought prosperity and productivity to American lives and those across the world. Going forward, we must do more to ensure it is secure and remains an engine of American growth."

Praising US President Donald Trump's new cybersecurity plan, Bolton said, "Today, the President signed the National Cyber Strategy, the first fully articulated cyber strategy in 15 years. I'd like to provide you with a top-level outline before it's released to the public."

"Since President Trump took office, he has acted decisively to strengthen the American response to the challenges presented by cyberspace. Under his watch, the United States has sanctioned malign cyber actors, indicted cyber criminals, placed public blame on those responsible for malicious activity, released public warnings on dangerous digital tools, and improved the security of government systems.

"Last year, he signed Executive Order 13800, Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure, which enhanced our understanding of the strategy required to improve our nation's cybersecurity. We release that strategy today."

The strategy, he said, "recognizes that private and public entities have struggled to secure their systems as adversaries have increased the frequency and sophistication of their malicious cyber activity." It also directs the federal government to "take action that ensures long-term improvements to cybersecurity for all Americans."

Security for federal networks will be improved, and additional efforts will be put into reporting and combating cyber crime. Other goals include efforts to "enhance cyberstability" and "attribute unacceptable behavior in cyberspace," as well as to "create structures of deterrence that will reduce malign behavior in cyberspace."

The plan also promises to "foster and protect American ingenuity, and develop a superior cybersecurity workforce," as well as "preserve the long-term openness, interoperability, security, and reliability of the Internet, which supports and is reinforced by United States interests."

A classified annex "reinforces, in many respects, the rescinding of the Obama administration directive on offensive cyber operations."

The new strategy went into effect on Thursday.