The Public Eye with Eric Chabrow

Cyber Cold War: U.S. Vs. Russia

Cyber Cold War: U.S. Vs. Russia

A new Cold War, of sorts, is emerging in cyberspace between the United States and Russia over the best way to respond to the mounting assaults on information systems and the Internet.

Though both nations' governments recognize the mayhem virtual assaults pose, they are at odds on how the international community should ban together to limit cyber attacks, according to an article Sunday in The New York Times:

Russia favors an international treaty along the lines of those negotiated for chemical weapons and has pushed for that approach at a series of meetings this year and in public statements by a high-ranking official.
Whether the American or Russian approach prevails ... major governments are reaching a point of no return in heading off a cyberwar arms race. 

The United States argues that a treaty is unnecessary. It instead advocates improved cooperation among international law enforcement groups. If these groups cooperate to make cyberspace more secure against criminal intrusions, their work will also make cyberspace more secure against military campaigns, American officials say.

Other points the article makes:

Russia would ban a country from secretly embedding malicious codes or circuitry that could be later activated from afar in the event of war, apply humanitarian laws banning attacks on noncombatants and a ban on deception in operations in cyberspace - an attempt to deal with the challenge of anonymous attacks, and call for broader international government oversight of the Internet.
The U.S. would resist agreements to allow governments to censor the Internet, saying they would provide cover for totalitarian regimes. American officials worry that a treaty would be ineffective because it can be almost impossible to determine if an Internet attack originated from a government, a hacker loyal to that government, or a rogue acting independently.

The article concludes:

"Whether the American or Russian approach prevails ... major governments are reaching a point of no return in heading off a cyberwar arms race."

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Retired Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Chabrow, who retired at the end of 2017, hosted and produced the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversaw ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.

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