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Zambia and U.S. Enhance Cybersecurity

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Cyber operators from U.S. Cyber Command’s Cyber National Mission Force (CNMF) have completed their inaugural defensive cyber deployment to Zambia, marking a significant milestone in international digital collaboration. This mission fortified ties with Zambian partners and provided actionable insights to enhance cybersecurity for both nations.

“As globalisation and technology continue to expand exponentially, so too do threats to governments and economies,” said Michael Gonzales, U.S. Ambassador to Zambia. “Zambia and the United States have long partnered on international peacekeeping to support regional security. This cybersecurity deployment expands our U.S.-Zambia collaboration to new dimensions.”

During the three-month deployment, U.S. cyber forces worked closely with the Zambian Information Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA), identifying network vulnerabilities and searching for malicious cyber activity. This partnership is vital for adapting to the rapidly evolving digital landscape, as U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Claude Tudor, U.S. Africa Command director of operations, highlighted, “This real-time cooperation is critical to strengthening the national security of Zambia and ensuring secure and safe defence systems for both of our nations.”

A key component of U.S. Cyber Command’s persistent engagement strategy, Defend Forward operations are intelligence-driven, partner-focused, and aimed at defending against and disrupting malicious cyber activities. These operations bolster homeland defence for the United States and its allies by building cybersecurity capacity and learning from international partners.

“Building the cybersecurity capacity and learning from our partners strengthens our collective global cybersecurity posture,” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Lorna M. Mahlock, Cyber National Mission Force Commander. “Collaboration is key for both nations as we gain new insights into adversary activities and improve our collective defence.”

An example of this collaborative success occurred when the U.S. team discovered a specific vulnerability in ZICTA’s network. Leveraging the team’s findings, ZICTA was able to eradicate the vulnerability, significantly improving their network defences.

“A fundamental element of our mission was actively exchanging up-to-date threats and adversary tactics, techniques, and procedures with our partner,” said the mission commander. “This effort allowed us to pinpoint a specific vulnerability and work with our partner to remediate the threat and strengthen their network defences.”

The cooperative nature of these missions not only helps partners secure their networks but also yields valuable information on cyber threats that CNMF can share with public and private-sector network defenders in the U.S. Through the Under Advisement programme, CNMF disseminates insights gained from international missions to enable U.S. entities to harden their cyber defences.

After the deployment, U.S. cyber operators provided a technical analysis report to ZICTA, enabling them to bolster their network defence further and complicate malicious cyber actors’ operations globally.

Since 2018, CNMF has conducted over 60 deployments and hunt operations in 28 countries, demonstrating the U.S.’s commitment to global cybersecurity.

ZICTA, established under the Information and Communication Technologies Act No. 15 of 2009, regulates the ICT sector in Zambia and oversees the country’s cybersecurity efforts. This mission exemplifies the importance of international cooperation in strengthening global digital defences and highlights the growing need for such partnerships in the digital age.

The significance of this mission extends beyond immediate cybersecurity improvements. It underscores the broader strategic importance of international cooperation in addressing cyber threats. By working together, Zambia and the U.S. set a precedent for nations to collaborate to enhance their cybersecurity resilience. This partnership is a model for future engagements, demonstrating that collective efforts can substantially advance cybersecurity practices and policies.

As globalisation and technological advancements accelerate, national and international security threats become more complex and pervasive. The U.S.-Zambia cybersecurity collaboration is a step towards mitigating these threats, ensuring both nations a more secure digital future. Through ongoing cooperation, shared intelligence, and joint initiatives, both countries are better equipped to navigate the challenges of the digital age, safeguarding their citizens and infrastructure from cyber threats.

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