Collaboration needed to stabilize cyberspace

The federal government needs to team up with groups outside of conventional security communities to effectively fight cyber instability that could threaten U.S. interests, according to new research.

A report by the Cyber Conflict Studies Association, Atlantic Council and Intelligent Decisions, Inc., identifies flaws in current U.S. cybersecurity strategies and then lays out recommendations for the national security community. The report finds that the overall U.S. strategic cyber environment hasn’t managed to establish credible deterrence and effectively thwart cyber adversaries and conflicts.

Among the recommendations in the report is that military and federal civilian cyber defense increasingly work with non-governmental organizations, researchers, corporations and groups outside traditional security communities. Collaboration could be achieved by using existing groups and information networks, including Computer Emergency Response Teams and ad hoc groups that often team up to address cybersecurity challenges.

“This collaboration must be focused on developing resilience in the face of a continuously evolving threat that has demonstrated that it will penetrate defenses,” the report states.

Most current research and analysis focus on cyber conflict on the offensive and exploitative capacity for non-state actors. The report said that findings indicate, however, it’s important to examine work done by non-state actors in mitigating cyber threats, particularly the advantages and disadvantages of the current state of collaboration.

The report found alternative approaches to cybersecurity would benefit U.S. goals and enhance overall stability in cyberspace. This includes the public health model, which considers how norms for states and non-state actors can restrict a disease from spreading. The second proposal, the environmental model, also emphasizes cyber cleanup and suggests applying “a legal regime” to handle problems such as pollution. A third method, the irregular warfare approach, leverages an existing military thinking to provide new understanding to cyber conflict management and mitigation.

“We believe that the ability to adapt current approaches and think more in terms of management of conflict, as well as developing approaches that prioritize addressing a wide range of actors and the role of collaboration will be essential in informing U.S. policy and meeting the challenges of cyber instability,” the report stated.

About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

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Reader comments

Thu, Jul 12, 2012

When I looked at the title I was going to comment on the fact that the government gave up control of the internet to the private sector and now the private sector wants to partner? Then I read the article.

What I find that many people do not realize is, the internet aka cyberspace, was never intended to be used in the way it has evolved. It was a system that, even though there were pranksters (the early and milder version of today's bad hackers), was predicated upon trust. Security was not a big issue, robustness and survivability in the event of a hardware failure (technology was not as robust then) were some driving concerns.

Then the government phased out control of this wonderful interconnectivity tool that now has evolved into a commercial system with all the ramifications of commercialism, but still has a core based upon the original trust model. Sure, like Microsoft Windows there have been many changes, but at the very core you still have the original concepts and the security weaknesses that folks never thought/knew about.

There is a fix, but with my lack of knowledge I only see a complete redesign of the underlying system and a LOT of obsolete programs. Y2K would probably be cheap in comparison.

My 2 cents based upon what I remember from COMP SCI classes too many years ago in the days of ARPANet, your remembrances may vary.

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