Biden’s European Tour Put Cyber Threats Front and Center

Biden’s European Tour Put Cyber Threats Front and Center
President Joe Biden meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Villa La Grange, in Geneva, Switzerland (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

After 18 months of the pandemic disrupting routines and upending our lives, things finally seem to be getting back to normal in some corners of the world. Elton John, for one, has just released extra dates on his latest “final” Farewell Tour. Meanwhile, another septuagenarian, Joe Biden, recently completed his first overseas visit as U.S. president. It is hard to imagine Biden carrying off the feathered headdresses or diamante-encrusted catsuits that make up John’s onstage wardrobe. But his European tour—comprising summits with the leaders of the G-7, NATO and European Union, and culminating in a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin—felt every bit as professionally orchestrated as that of any A-list rock star.

The “normal” that Biden exuded throughout the trip felt like such a relief after the four years of erratic U.S. foreign policy under his predecessor, Donald Trump, who seemed to perceive the EU and NATO as enemies getting in the way of his chummy bromance with a bemused Putin.

For cyber-watchers, Biden’s European tour marked the sector’s definitive transition into prime time. Cyber is finally mainstreaming, up there as a major international threat alongside climate change, nuclear proliferation and the coronavirus pandemic. First, G-7 leaders committed to closer cooperation on cyber, technology and combating ransomware. They also declared that technical standards should continue to be settled through a multistakeholder approach and reflect democratic values. Next up, NATO had strong words about Russia and its “malicious cyber activities.”

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