The United States has begun planning talks with Russia and a United Nations arms control committee to strengthen Internet security and limit military use of cyberspace. American and Russian officials have very different interpretations of the talks so far, but the simple fact that the United States is even participating represents a significant policy shift after years of rejecting Russia’s overtures. Officials familiar with the talks say that the Obama administration realized more nations were developing cyberweapons, and that a new approach was needed to blunt an international arms race.
In the past two years, Internet-based attacks on government and corporate computer systems have increased to thousands a day. Seldom ever identified hackers have been credited with compromising Pentagon computers, stealing industrial secrets and temporarily jamming government and corporate Web sites. President Obama ordered a review of the nation’s Internet security policies in February and is preparing to name an official to coordinate a national policy.
Russian officials have stated that increasing challenges posed by military activities to civilian computer networks would be best dealt with by an international treaty, similar to treaties that have limited the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. The United States had always resisted, arguing that it was impossible to draw a line between the commercial and military uses of software and hardware. Recently, people familiar with the discussions say there has been a thaw. Courtesy of nytimes.com