News | December 05, 2014

Paving the Way Forward to Breakthroughs in Cyber Cooperation

EWI’s summit marks progress and challenges in its third day. 

The EastWest Institute’s Global Cyberspace Cooperation Summit V began its third and final day with a series of special sections and Breakthrough Group observations, where global cyber experts and leaders highlighted the progress made and the many challenges that face the digital world.

In the special section “Transatlantic Partnership,” chaired by Matthias Muller von Blumencron, editor-in-chief, Digitial Products, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, panelists discussed the lack of international agreement on the rules and norms governing cyberspace, including state behavior in cyberspace. This section took place under the Chatham House Rule.

“The Internet is still not a regulated place. We are all asking what the guidelines should be,” said one participant. “We are all struggling with the tension between control and regulation on the one hand and free access on the other.”

Many agreed that governments are reactive rather than proactive in managing cyber issues, and that without bold leadership in this arena, little will change.

“What are the norms that we can all agree on in the political arena that will help the global community move forward?” another participant said. “We must remember that our common democracies and principles are our glue and can help us move forward.”

Attendees spoke of the need to find international definitions. “We must come to an agreement on what we mean by ‘privacy.’”

Despite the recent transatlantic tensions there are numerous possibilities for greater cooperation. “As democracies, we have much in common. Our notions of cyber crime, cyber war and cyber espionage are well defined,” a panelist said.

He added, “U.S. citizens are as interested in protecting privacy as German citizens. When U.S. citizens found out that their private data was compromised, they were just as upset.”

Many echoed the great need for good leadership in cybersecurity as well as a strategy for simplifying the complexity that is inherent in this field. It was noted that the private sector welcomes governments to propose a common risk evaluation framework. 

“We are seeing a level of complexity here that is becoming more and more difficult not only to understand but to explain," another participant emphasized. "Great leadership must also include the ability to explain these issues, so that not only nations understand the consequences, but that all citizens appreciate and comprehend what needs to be done in this ever-expanding dimension.” 

Following the special interest sections, Latha Reddy, EWI’s distinguished fellow and former deputy of national security of India, chaired the panel on Breakthrough Group findings. Representatives from all seven groups reported on the progress made over the summit.

Lt. General (ret.) Harry D. Raduege, chairman of Deloitte’s Center for Cyber Innovation and a member of EWI’s President’s Advisory Group, commented on the latest progress made on the “Strengthening Critical Infrastructure Resilience and Preparedness” group.

“We believe that we need to work better at seeing the interdependence of international security, national security and economic security,” said Raduege. “We need to rethink these silos. These functions can no longer afford to be evaluated independently.”

He added, “All of our vulnerabilities are increasing, and we must create safe harbors for cross border information sharing.”

At the conclusion of this session, Reddy made special mention of the recent passing of EWI’s founder and President John Edwin Mroz. “It was John’s deep belief that building trust and avoiding conflict in cyberspace was possible. We are all working toward that today and moving forward in his memory.”

The afternoon sessions included plenary sessions on “Young Cyber Leaders Respond.” Young cyber researchers are less alarmist and perhaps more optimistic in their response to cyber issues, said EWI Senior Fellow Franz Gady. "We do not operate under a Cold War paradigm mindset."