Our Cyber Dysconnect

Monday, September 03, 2012

Joel Harding

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Three years ago I attended a conference in Moscow, Russia, it was an eye opener. I spoke openly about cyberwar (a term I used begrudgingly and admitted as much), the offensive side .

That, of and by itself, was shocking. During the conference I realized how the US was viewed by much of the rest of the world, when I was followed by a cybersecurity expert from China, then India, then Russia and so on. Of course the subject had subtly changed from offensive to defensive. All these cyber attacks had originated from servers in the US. 

Graph after graph, fact after fact, briefer after briefer. I didn’t feel in the least uncomfortable because I realized it was all true. But the point that I took away was not that the US was the actual source of these attacks but that the US was where the servers were located. 

The servers had been hijacked by users in other countries. I also realized that there was no point of reference. I had nothing to compare, such as the number of attacks against US corporations or forces versus the same comparative data from India, Russia, China or even Outer Carjakistan (sorry if you’ve ever heard of such a place).

The fact is our governments all talk across one another instead of honestly exchanging data. You, me, the engineer in the office down the hall or the President of this country or that, we can all talk about how bad things are but until we have agreed upon terms and can honestly compare apples with oranges, all we are using are empty words.

To top this all off our governments are all finding ways to make current cyber talks political in nature. The US insists on freedom of speech and other freedoms must be included in all agreements.

The Chinese and the Russians (and the other countries in SCO) insist that State security trumps all internet freedoms when a crisis erupts. The US will not abide the ITU being in charge of internet policy because the US government does not trust the ITU to be fair (actually i believe they don’t believe the ITU will enforce freedom of speech uniformly and ubiquitously or will ensure everybody has the basic right to the internet (a UN granted right)).

The bottom line: our governments are preventing us from agreeing on terms, not because they can’t, but because they can’t agree on other freedoms (which will probably never be resolved).  Call it our Cyber Dysconnect.

Cross-posted from To Inform is to Influence

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