The United States and Russia have made the first tentative steps towards an agreement regarding the hardening of Internet security and restricting the use of cyberspace for military purposes.
After years of “flying solo” and refusing cooperation proposals from the Russians, it seems that the U.S. have had a change of heart about the issue. Was it the massive escalation of cyber threats that made them think again? Or was it the fact that today many a country is capable of – and in fact, is! – developing cyber capabilities and weapons that can rival those of the U.S. and penetrate their national defenses?
In any case, the Obama administration must be commended for their ability to take a good, objective look at reality and act upon the realization that cyber threats are shifting the balance of power. Serious cyber attacks are on the horizon, and the U.S. needs to gather allies if they are to have the upper hand on this battlefield.
So far, the talks – aided by a United Nations arms control committee – still seem to be in the initial phase, where both parties are asserting their good will and stating their position. The Russians are calling for a ban of offensive cyberweapons and cyberterrorism, but refuse to permit cross-border searches. The U.S. aim to achieve international cooperation against cyber criminals.
The continuation of the discussion is slated for January (in New York), but another opportunity before that term will also be taken advantage of – a German Internet security conference sponsored by Russia.