Code of safe con­duct to help cy­ber se­cu­rity

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

China’s at­tempts to co­op­er­ate with the United States to safe­guard the strate­gic sta­bil­ity of cy­berspace have been wel­comed, as the Chi­nese main­land andHong Kong have suf­fered a se­ries of high-pro­file cy­ber at­tacks this year, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est Price­wa­ter­house­Coop­ers Global State of In­for­ma­tion Se­cu­rity Sur­vey. Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the av­er­age fi­nan­cial loss caused by cy­ber crimes in the re­gion rose 10 per­cent year-on-year to $2.63 mil­lion, com­pared with a 5 per­cent de­cline glob­ally.

In co­op­er­at­ing to safe­guard cy­berspace, Beijing and Wash­ing­ton could seek the In­ter­net equiv­a­lent of the code of safe con­duct agreed be­tween their mil­i­taries to avoid naval and air en­coun­ters, which has helped man­age sev­eral bi­lat­eral dis­putes.

The two coun­tries should first try their best to not point the fin­ger at each other in case a con­flict over cy­ber se­cu­rity emerges. The lat­est round of ten­sions in cy­berspace started in early 2013, when Amer­i­can pri­vate se­cu­rity com­pa­nyMan­di­ant re­leased a re­port, “APT1: Ex­pos­ing One of China’s Cy­ber Es­pi­onage Units”, ac­cus­ing the Chi­nese mil­i­tary of steal­ing US in­tel­lec­tual property.

Such an hys­ter­i­cal at­ti­tude, re­flects the US’ anx­i­ety over China’s im­pres­sive eco­nomic growth in re­cent years. It is, there­fore, im­por­tant that the US seek to ad­just its strate­gic per­cep­tion of China and ac­cept that the power gap be­tween them is clos­ing.

Beijing, on its part, ought to make more ef­forts to make its ideas clear to ac­quire a big­ger say in global cy­ber se­cu­rity af­fairs. Be­sides, nei­ther coun­try, es­pe­cially the US, should make a habit of “making en­e­mies” by tak­ing ir­re­spon­si­ble ac­tions, even for the sake of na­tional se­cu­rity.

True, most cut­ting-edge tech­nolo­gies in the age of the In­ter­net can be law­fully and strate­gi­cally used to gather mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence and keep cy­ber at­tacks at bay. But highly politi­cized dis­cus­sions and oper­a­tions, which used to be kept se­cret, can now be made pub­lic by the me­dia to­day. So the chal­lenge is to keep such de­tails confidential.

In re­gard to China-US cy­ber co­op­er­a­tion, the ma­jor prob­lem lies in­Wash­ing­ton’s at­tempts to cre­ate en­e­mies for po­lit­i­cal mo­tives. Tac­tics such as ex­ag­ger­at­ing the per­ils of the so-called Chi­nese cy­ber at­tacks and in­tim­i­dat­ing the Amer­i­can pub­lic and leg­is­la­ture with some se­lec­tively cho­sen ma­te­ri­als, for ex­am­ple, have been rou­tinely used by the US cy­ber se­cu­rity au­thor­i­ties to cre­ate more room for po­lit­i­cal ma­neu­ver­ings and get more mil­i­tary bud­get.

Such tricks may have eased some of their pres­sure to safe­guard home­land se­cu­rity, but they have come at the cost of cy­berspace sta­bil­ity which China and the US both need. They have also failed to pro­tect the two coun­tries’ na­tional in­ter­ests, which need them to closely co­or­di­nate rather than op­pose or ac­cuse each other.

Wash­ing­ton should also be care­ful about its mil­i­tary in­dus­try, which is ba­si­cally bol­stered by cer­tain se­cu­rity en­ter­prises and de­part­ments try­ing to abduct the na­tional se­cu­rity pol­icy. For some US se­cu­rity com­pa­nies, gath­er­ing ev­i­dence on the imag­i­nary cy­ber at­tacks from China to help thwart them in the fu­ture can guar­an­tee the con­sis­tent in­crease in their mar­ket val­ues. Like­wise, rel­e­vant govern­men­tal or­gans also tend to over­state the cy­ber se­cu­rity is­sue to in­crease their bud­get and in­flu­ence se­cu­rity af­fairs. China and the US should not let such a parochial and hawk­ish mind­set af­fec­tWash­ing­ton’s cy­ber se­cu­rity strat­egy, be­cause nei­ther coun­try would emerge the win­ner in a cy­ber war; in fact, such a war will cause huge dam­age to the world. As a re­spon­si­ble ma­jor power, the US is obliged to push for­ward the China-US strate­gic di­a­logue on cy­ber se­cu­rity to make global

cy­berspace more stable, rather than us­ing dou­ble stan­dard to de­fend its con­tro­ver­sial strat­egy and tac­tics, and con­demn China for ab­surd rea­sons.

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