Friday, November 8, 2013

Formulating National Security in Cyberspace

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where an international research project on "Political Strategic Ecology in Cyberspace" is being launched.  This research uses techniques of complex systems and natural ecology. The researchers are asking for input from the community and will reach out via blogs and other on-line forms.

Professor Paul Cornish from University of Exeter UK, argued that cyberspace should be treated as a strategic space. Professor Roger Bradbury,  National Security College at ANU expressed concern about the Internet being balkanized with countries such s China separating their national systems from the global network.

One of the audience members commented that the Internet was built by engineers and and that might cause an impediment to security. I found this discussion of balkanization and engineers acting without reference to the public interest troubling. The term "internet" refers to a "Network of Networks", with "The Internet" as the global example of this. Those designing the Internet did not so in isolation from issues of governance, that was key to the system.

I suggest researchers need to first look at how the Internet was created and is now governed. Professor Fred Cate , Director of the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research at Indiana University, pointed out that most of the Internet is run by non-government organizations. He argued that the law and governance was lagging actual use of the Internet. However, this is not my experience.

When advocating the use of the Internet in Australia in the 1990s, myself and others considered the governance and legal implications. In my day job I had to devise policies for the use of the Internet and the world Wide web by the Department of Defence. This turned out to be relativity easy, identifying existing polices, laws and guidelines and interpreting these where necessary. The general assumption which many people in government and academia made, that public utilities are administered primarily by government turned out not to be true. In practice, most public services are provided by non-government entities following guidelines and standards written by non-government bodies. This approach-was extended to the Internet and proved resilient.

Governments and researchers who want to impose top-down government control of the Internet in order to protect democracy are missing the point.

One student in the audience asked an interesting question about cyber-war, outer-space and conventional warfare in developing nations. One of the panel responded that cyber-war would be an adjunct to use of conventional forces and may make conflicts harder to mange.

I asked the panel how we could get the results of their research to policy makers and practitioners quickly. In the 1990s we used the ANU fellow bar as a forum for formulating public policy, but perhaps something more systematic is needed. 

Strategy and Statecraft in Cyberspace

Join us for a panel discussion and open forum to explore the complexities of cyberspace from a national security perspective – a domain in which states and non-state actors interact with each other in an increasingly contested environment.

This event has been organized by the ANU National Security College (NSC) as it finalises priorities for its new research program on Strategy and Statecraft in Cyberspace. The NSC has brought together leading researchers from Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom for this event which will be facilitated by the ABC’s Michael Brissenden:
  • Professor Roger Bradbury is a complex systems scientist with experience in international cyber issues, and is with the National Security College at ANU.
  • Professor Fred Cate specialises in information privacy and security law issues, and is Director of the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research at Indiana University, USA.
  • Professor Paul Cornish is an expert in cyber security and cyber war, and Professor of Strategic Studies at the Strategy and Security Institute at the University of Exeter, UK.
  • Dr Jon Lindsay is an expert in international relations at the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation at UC San Diego, USA.
Like the traditional domains of land, sea, air and space, states and non-state actors are using the cyberspace domain to pursue their objectives in an increasingly complex world. The panel will discuss the rise of cyberspace, which has created a number of ‘wicked’ policy problems for global security including:

  • the proliferation of cyber weapons to state and non-state actors
  • the systemic vulnerabilities in the infrastructure of globalisation and military power
  • the friction between private sector actors who manage the Internet and the public sector actors who are supposed to defend them
  • the mismatch between the pace of policy formation and the pace of technological change
  • the failure to coordinate among government agencies responsible for national security, law enforcement and industrial policy
  • major disagreements about how the Internet should be managed domestically and internationally.

  • Some authors foresee grave new risks of a ‘digital Pearl Harbor’, while their critics dismiss these warnings as inflating the threat. Technological complexity has amplified political complexity, which in turn has complicated political analysis. Our panel will endeavor to unpick these issues from the perspectives of social policy, security policy and the future of technology. We look forward to welcoming you at this important event focusing on an issue of critical significance.

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