Cybersecurity

U.S., China find some common cyber ground

iStockPhoto / FCW

The U.S. and China didn’t come to a formal agreement on major cybersecurity issues during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the White House, but Xi and President Barack Obama did agree to put their nation’s intelligence officials into a twice-a-year dialogue on the issue.

Ahead of the summit, cybersecurity experts such as Tripwire analyst Ken Westin predicted that no formal treaty or firm agreement to protect critical infrastructure from cyberattacks would be reached, because to do so would probably require China to admit it had the capability to mount such attacks.

Among a long list of topics the two sides agreed to work on during meetings was establishing a high-level joint dialogue mechanism on fighting cybercrime and related issues. The White House tasked the Department of Homeland Security and the attorney general to lead the dialogue with China’s Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of State Security, Ministry of Justice, and the State Internet and Information Office. Other U.S. participants in the dialogue include representatives from the FBI, and the intelligence community.

The dialogue mechanism, said the White House, will be used to review the timeliness and quality of responses to requests for information and assistance with respect to malicious cyber activity of concern identified by either side. The White House said both sides agreed to establish a hotline for any escalation that might arise in the course of responding to such requests.

The first meeting will be held by the end of 2015.

Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), a senior member of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security committees and co-founder of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, said in a statement the deal “represents important, substantive progress in the relationship between the U.S. and China” But, Langevin said, “as positive as this agreement is, I remain skeptical about the Chinese commitment to carry it out.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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