Building Consensus on Cybersecurity

Commentary | October 04, 2011

International agreements on cybersecurity require common terms of debate, participants at the EastWest Institute's Worldwide Security Conference (WSC) in Brussels said Tuesday. 

Experts from the United States, Russia, China  and other countries advanced ongoing efforts to develop recommendations for areas of potential cooperation to protect critical infrastructure.

"The efforts of the EastWest Institute are very constructive," said Andrey Korotkov, Head Chair of Global Information Processes at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. "We now have direct contacts with American partners and they represent not only the official position of the government of the United States, but the point of view of experts."
On the first day of WSC8, Gen. Vladislav Sherstyuk, Advisor to the Secretary of the Security Council of Russia, presented the "Draft Convention on International Information Security." The draft was first presented by the Russian government last month at an international meeting of high-ranking security officials in Ekaterinburg, Russia. The text is designed to outline concepts for discussion and contributions from governments, experts, and members of the private sector and civil society.
The discussion at the 8th annual WSC continued the EastWest Institute's (EWI) existing work, which brings together government officials, technical experts and business leaders.
Paul Nicholas, Senior Director of Global Security Strategy at Microsoft, said international agreement on computer and data security will be increasingly important.
"With another billion people coming online in the next four years, it's really important we have agreements for collaboration on cybersecurity," Nicholas said.
Existing international rules, such as the Geneva and Hague Conventions, can serve as a starting point for agreements in the era of online communications and digital technology, said EWI's Chief Technology Officer and Distinguished Fellow Karl Rauscher.
"We have a foundation of trust in the physical world that we've now extended to the cyber world," Rauscher said.
EWI's wider work on international issues in cybersecurity includes contacts with experts and leaders from China, India and the Cyber40, a diverse group of 40 technologically advanced countries.
Cybersecurity is one of the dominant themes of the WSC, which runs for three days of public events and private consultations.