The Public Eye with Eric Chabrow

Internationalizing Cybersecurity

Internationalizing Cybersecurity

It's not just our government that sees the need for the international community to collaborate in developing global standards for cybersecurity.

The British House of Lords European Union Committee Thursday issued a report entitled Protecting Europe Against Large-Scale Cyber Attacks, which concludes international cooperation is necessary to protect British and the EU's critical IT infrastructure. From the report:

"Any assessment of the role of the EU must be made in a global context, recognizing that the Internet has no borders, and that many multinational companies operate both within and outside the EU. We believe that the (British) government and the EU should be giving greater attention to how cybersecurity could be developed on a global basis. In particular, consideration needs to be given to the gradual development of international rules which will effectively discourage the launching of proxy attacks from within the jurisdiction of some of the main users of the Internet.

Such international cooperation is a major goal of the Obama administration and members of Congress. When President Obama tapped Howard Schmidt late last year to be his cybersecurity coordinator, among his assignments was the strengthening of international partnerships to battle cybersecurity.

Schmidt is no stranger to global cooperation on information security. When named cybersecurity "czar," Schmidt had been serving as president and CEO of the London-based Information Security Forum, an independent not-for-profit that furnishes authoritative opinion and guidance on all aspects of IT security. In a speech delivered in late January, one week after becoming cybersecurity coordinator, Schmidt explained the importance of international collaboration at the highest level on IT security because:

"(H)ackers don't stop at our borders, and say, 'I'm sorry you need a visa to go any further to deliver this packet or e-mail or something.' Clearly this is an international spectrum and we have tremendous international support, not only for what we are doing, but for some of the things they are doing as well that is going to strengthen the global security from the Internet."

And, bills before Congress promote international cooperation on cybersecurity. The House-passed Cybersecurity Enhancement Act instructs the director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology to coordinate the federal government's representation in the international development of technical standards related to cybersecurity and to report to Congress a proactive plan to engage international standards bodies with respect to the development of technical standards related to cybersecurity.

Legislation introduced by Sens. Jay Rockefeller, D.-W.Va., and Olympia Snowe, R.-Maine - the Cybersecurity Act of 2010 - directs the president to work with representatives of foreign governments to develop norms, organizations and other cooperative activities for international engagement to improve cybersecurity and encourage international cooperation in improving cybersecurity on a global basis. The bill would require the president to submit an annual report to the Congress on the progress of these international initiatives.

Now, will the United States and the EU be able to recruit the likes of China and Russia - nations, to say the least, seen as exploiting cyber vulnerabilities - to the table to create international cybersecurity standards?

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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