Global cyber war treaties urgently needed: Bruce Schneier
- 08 November, 2011 16:59
Rules of engagement between different countries should be established before a major Web-based attack takes place according to BT Group’s US chief security technology officer, Bruce Schneier.
Speaking at a BT briefing in Sydney, he said the world was in the early years of a cyber war arms race, something that’s not in anyone's best interests.
“Unless this is stopped, we will see an increased militarisation of cyberspace and that affects the protocols and networks we use,” he said.
“There’s a doctrine called preparing the battlefield where countries will do things that aren’t overtly offensive but prepare them for later on.”
According to Schneier, under that doctrine, both the United States and China had been penetrating each other’s networks and leaving behind malicious pieces of code called logic bombs which could be used later.
“This is concerning because first off, the [logic bombs] can go off accidently and it crosses a line.”
To prevent this from happening, Schneier called for cyber war treaties, similar to nuclear weapon treaties agreed to by countries such as the US and Russia, to be developed and signed.
“I’d like to see decisions about what cyber weapons we are building and using to be approved by the [US] president because there is too much chance of it getting out of hand,” he said.
According to Schneier, the Stuxnet worm which infected a nuclear facility in Iran during June 2009 was an example of how to create a highly targeted and well-written cyber weapon and it “still went wrong” as there were reports that it managed to escape the facility.
“It’s been blamed for a satellite outage in India and an industrial plant in China which just happened to have a similar industrial control system,” he said.
“Even if you target your weapons they can still have collateral damage in other countries.”
In addition to the treaties, Schneier suggested countries establish rules of engagement in cyberspace and understand what he called cyber mercenaries and non-state actors, who range from terrorists to “kids playing politics.”
“Last year, the group Anonymous told the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation [NATO] not to mess with it. We’re not supposed to be living in a world where a bunch of guys threaten NATO.”
In conclusion, Schenier said that people also needed to stop feeding their own fears about cyber war.
“There is a lot of rhetoric out there because it’s financially profitable and a lot of US companies are making good money out of cyber war contracts.”
“This rhetoric ratchets up and just makes everything worse. The more we calm down and discuss this rationally, the more we can look at cyber war, the broader advanced persistent threat [APT] and how that affects us,” he said.
Got a security tip-off? Contact Hamish Barwick at hamish_barwick at idg.com.au
Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick
Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.
- Choice and Control – Considerations for Developing Enterprise Cloud Strategies
- Tolly Report: Performance Survey of Virtual Environment Security
- Cloud Computing in the Midmarket : Assessing the Options
- Definitive Guide to Next-Generation Threat Protection
- CSO Spotlight: Security-as-a-Service Gaining Popularity
Why change management doesn’t work
Larry Page wants to see your medical records
Dual-Persona Smartphones Not a BYOD Panacea
After two-year hiatus, EFF accepts bitcoin donations again
CIOs struggle to deliver timely mobile business apps: survey
The SPARC Difference - Reduce Risks, Cut Costs, Power Innovation
Despite current economic factors, IT investment continues to be fueled by the need for better and more agile IT capabilities to support an enterprise’s business strategy, as well as to keep up with the rapidly changing demands of the ‘always-on’ user. However, budgets are squeezed and executives are under pressure to reduce capital expenditure and streamline administrative costs. A key strategy is to consolidate and refresh existing IT infrastructures. Download now to find out what technology can add value and enable you to change the shape of your IT budget and, to transform IT into a force for change and innovation.
How Web Security Improves Productivity and Compliance
In this white paper, we will look at how secure web gateways, one type of information security technology, can provide benefits to many departments within any business or government agency. Download now.
Key Factors in Modernising Backup and Recovery
There is a definite need for better data protection solutions in today’s enterprise data centres. The question is whether to continue with software-only backup and recovery solutions, or to make the move to a purpose-built backup appliance with de-duplication capabilities. This paper discusses the trends that have made modernising backup and recovery an urgent priority. Click to download.