Russia-U.S. Bilateral on Cybersecurity: Critical Terminology Foundations

Policy Report | April 26, 2011

On Wednesday April 27, the EastWest Institute and the Information Security Institute released the first joint Russian-American report to define critical terms for cyber and information security.

Prepared by a team of Russian and U.S. experts convened by EWI, Critical Terminology Foundations presents twenty terms – the basis for an international cyber taxonomy.

“It may seem like a small step, but Russians and Americans have never before sat down and really agreed on the terms that are the prerequisite for rules of the road for cyber conflict,” says EWI Chief Technology Officer Karl Rauscher who led the process with Valery Yaschenko, Director of the Information Security Institute at Moscow State University. “Defining terms together is the first step for creating international cybersecurity agreements.”

According to experts on the team, several bodies have sponsored efforts to create a U.S.-Russian cyber glossary for over a decade, but they stalled out on the definition of an essential first term: cybersecurity itself.  Unlike Americans, Russians saw cybersecurity as an inextricable part of a larger discussion on information security.  In the EWI-led process, the group resolved this difference by consciously addressing “cyber” as a crucial subset of “information.”

Conducting analysis of usage and needs, engaging in rigorous discussion and consulting existing lexicons, the group went on to define terms ranging from cyberspace to cyber exploitation, then rendering each definition in English and Russian.  The terms were presented in a three-component taxonomy structure that included the Theatre, the Modes of Aggravation and the Art.  The next step, according to Rauscher, is to use the report to launch a multilateral discussion on the most critical terms for the development of international cybersecurity policy, which lags far behind rapidly moving technology.

Today, an advance edition of the report will be presented in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany at the Fifth International Forum "Cooperation between Government, Civil Society and Business in the Field of Information Security and Combating Terrorism.”

Next, a multilateral working group on key terms will meet at EWI’s Second Worldwide Cybersecurity Summit, to be held in London June 1-2.  The summit will bring together over 400 business, government and technical experts from around the world to find new solutions for securing cyberspace.

“Skeptics on both sides said that securing definitional agreement between Russians and Americans was an impossible task,” says EWI President John Mroz. “Thanks to the efforts of this team, the table is set for the start of meaningful multilateral conversations that lay the groundwork for ‘rules of the road’ agreements.”

Click here to learn more about EWI's Second Worldwide Cybersecurity Summit in London