Surf security calls for cyber situation awareness
Cross-border cyber attacks have led to a need for strategies from both state and private organisations
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad: the Syrian Electronic Army attacked the BBC and Guardian
As cyber concerns cross new technologies and territories it creates a need for a better understanding of the borders of “cyber-space”; a need for “cyber situation awareness”.
The ongoing saga of Edward Snowden underlines the fact that “knowledge is power and wisdom is control”.
However, the recent allegations about the bugging of EU offices by US intelligence demonstrates that, in its pursuit of knowledge, the US has compromised its earlier control over increasingly unfriendly trade relations – in this case with the European Union.
Should the EU choose to make judicious use of this situation, it can forgo internal divisions and forge a cohesive institutional-level response during the upcoming free-trade agreement discussions.
All this comes within weeks of the Chinese government somewhat isolating the county of Hongyuan, by curbing the ability of its ethnic Tibetan population from communicating beyond its boundaries.
Meanwhile the South Korea government issued a cyber alert at the end of last month, after a hacking attack on its government websites marking the anniversary of the start of the 1950-53 Korean War.
The latest incident comes on the heels of an earlier cyber attack in March, during which 32,000 South Korean computers were affected (in the state that has the world’s fastest internet connection).
The increasing use of cyber attacks as a means of inciting diplomatic tension has opened up a new area of concern for governments and the private sector alike.
On June 10th and 11th Chatham House (also known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs) hosted a meeting on cyber security called Balancing Risks, Returns and Responsibilities.
The congregation of cyber specialists was timely in light of recent tip-of-the-iceberg revelations regarding Prism, the code-name for the US government’s secret internet surveillance programme that collects customer data from internet and phone companies.
The Prism predicament involves issues of public information, privacy laws and patriotism.
Since its inception in 2007, Prism has become the US National Security Agency’s main source of raw intelligence, building “libraries of information” on citizens and competitors alike.
The legal ambiguity of Prism and cyber power is at the heart of the coordination problem for civil-liberty advocates, just as it is for governments.
As yet, there is no agreed legal framework for response to cyber attacks or cyber intrusions. The Prism revelations are all the more damaging since they increase demands for rule changes at a time when the capacity of states to implement legislative and regulatory change is limited.
At Chatham House a clique of the international cyber-security community contemplated how to combat the growing array of cyber threats.