Sunday, June 28, 2009

U.S. and Russia Cyberspace Treaty? Nyet!

In this interesting article from The New York Times today, Russia is looking to negotiate an international treaty for limiting weapons in cyberspace. Such a treaty would be along the lines of similar bilateral agreements limiting chemical and nuclear weapons.

But, according to the article, the U.S. says a cyberwar treaty is unnecessary and sees the issue instead of improving international law enforcement. The U.S. argument is that international police protections against cybercrime, which are weak at best right now, would prevent cyberwar.

The difference in viewpoints is interesting, since the Russians see the lack of a treaty as a dangerous prelude to a virtual arms race in cyberspace, similar to what happened during the Cold War with nuclear weapons. And, the U.S. sees the issue as one of law enforcement. Besides, according to the U.S., the 50,000 attacks a day hitting U.S. targets -- mostly from China and Russia -- need to be criminalized to be legally combatted.

In addition, a treaty would be hard to enforce since there are no jurisdictions online. Attacks emanating from a hostile country could anonymously bounce around servers all over the world, making the true origin hard to pin point.

The issue is also interesting since it comes within a week of U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates announcing the formation of a new cybercommand at the Pentagon.

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