In addressing cybersecurity experts at Thursday’s Romanian Community Emergency Response Team (CERT-RO) virtual Annual Conference, Ambassador Adrian Zuckerman thanked them for their work securing infrastructure, detecting threats, and immediately responding to cyberattacks.
“As cyber professionals, you are on the front lines every day, securing our infrastructure, detecting threats, and responding immediately to incidents. We are proud of our close and productive coordination with Romanian CERT, the Romanian National Police and many other institutions that work, day and night, to defend our cyber borders and bring criminals to justice. No single organization nor agency, nor even nation, can fight malign actors and global cybercrime alone. International cooperation and private sector engagement are not options—they are essential. I encourage you to continue to share resources to help governments, responsible companies and civil society as you all work together to combat cyber threats.”
The Ambassador also highlighted recent events which illustrate the ever-growing ties between the United States and Romania, such as the signing of the 10 Year Road Map for Military Cooperation, the Intergovernmental Agreement on Cernavodă, the agreement with the U.S. Export-Import Bank, and the signing of the 5G MOU.
“Nowhere is our partnership stronger than our security relationship. The United States recognizes the importance of Romania, a steadfast and reliable ally, protecting the Black Sea region and the eastern flank of Europe from malign Russian conduct and other malign influence. Just two weeks ago today, the US Secretary of Defense Esper and Minister of National Defense Ciuca signed a ten-year defense cooperation roadmap to further our military cooperation, including in the cyber defense area. The United States is committed to stand, and will stand, shoulder to shoulder with the people of Romania.”
As for the Cernavoda agreement, ambassador Zuckerman stated that “this project, valued at approximately $8 billion, will have American, Canadian and French content, as well as a substantial amount of content provided by Romania. This will be a tremendous economic boost for Romania.”
“The Cernavoda project is also a paradigm for future collaboration between the United States and Romania to improve and develop Romania’s infrastructure. This project is a tremendous example of Romania’s potential to become a regional powerhouse in energy production and export. “
The U.S. diplomat also announced “a project to develop a highway and railroad from the Black Sea to the Baltic.” “This project, in conjunction with Poland, will further develop Romania’s economy as well as that of the region. These projects are important reminders of what can be done to develop critical infrastructure projects with partners we can trust that respect the rule of law.”
On this last issue, the Ambassador reminded participants that we should only work with partners we can trust, cautioning that there can be no backsliding on the advances Romania has made in the last year to restore the rule of law. He warned that those who had participated in the relaxation of anti-crime laws and those who engaged in corrupt conduct “will not have our support.”
“Trust is an important word. The rule of law is paramount to freedom and democracy. We cannot backslide on the advances made in Romania to restore respect for the rule of law in the last year. The corruption found in the prior government, which resulted in the relaxation of anti-crime laws just to help former PSD leader Dragnea avoid jail will not be countenanced. Those who participated and assisted in depriving the Romanian people of the rule of law and engaged in corrupt conduct will not have our support. The multitude of advances made by the Orban government during the last year could easily be undermined. The rule of law is paramount and comes first in all of our joint undertakings. No one should forget that. Many from without, and sadly a few from within, keep trying to undermine Romanian democracy, freedom and the advances achieved by the Romanian people. “
On cybersecurity, 5G and Huawei
Ambassador Zuckerman also resumed criticism against China and Huawei.
“We have witnessed devastating cyberattacks on critical infrastructure and healthcare systems, intellectual property theft, and cyber criminals using ever-more sophisticated tools to target victims. From Chinese state-sponsored hackers stealing data from Western technology companies to Russian-backed cyberattacks against the country of Georgia last fall, we face a range of foreign adversaries and cyber threats that demand close international cooperation. The United States, with steadfast Allies like Romania, and other partners around the globe will continue to call out such efforts to destabilize our digital systems and threaten our way of life.
The stakes could not be higher as technology advances. For example, next-generation 5G networks will bring a range of disruptive and transformative applications in sectors such as defense, transportation and energy. These are not just innovative applications, they are the pillars of modern critical infrastructure. However, 5G from untrustworthy companies will bring new threats as malign actors attempt to exploit access for intrusion and surveillance. The strategy of the Chinese Communist Party is clear: to dominate 5G networks and extend its surveillance through companies like Huawei.
I am sure you are all familiar with the concept of “zero trust” in cybersecurity. No matter what a company tells you or what firewall is in place, we must work from a simple principle: never trust, always verify. Countries, companies and citizens need to be able to trust that 5G networks will not threaten national security, privacy, intellectual property or human rights. Trust cannot exist where manufacturers and vendors are subject to authoritarian governments, like the People’s Republic of China, without transparency and rule of law to protect consumers and businesses. Cybersecurity best practices will be critical to protect networks from threats and unauthorized access or “back doors,” but untrusted, high-risk companies like Huawei and ZTE don’t need a back door—their software and hardware provides the front door to allow them to see and hear everyone on their networks.”