Global panel puts together toolbox to stabilize cybersecurity worldwide

GCSC will share information, support research, action to promote international peace

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Cit­ing an increase in cyber attacks world­wide, a glob­al com­mis­sion formed in Ger­many last month to pro­mote more dia­logue, research and ini­tia­tives to make cyber­space more secure.

The Glob­al Com­mis­sion on the Sta­bil­i­ty of Cyber­space (GCSC) was launched at the Munich Secu­ri­ty Con­fer­ence by the Nether­lands, the Hague Cen­tre for Strate­gic Stud­ies, and the East­West Insti­tute. It will be based at the Hague and fund­ed by the Dutch gov­ern­ment, Microsoft, the Vir­ginia-based Inter­net Soci­ety and oth­er spon­sors.

Louk Fae­sen, GCSC Sec­re­tari­at project man­ag­er

The rise of offen­sive cyber oper­a­tions risks under­min­ing the peace­ful use of cyber­space to facil­i­tate the eco­nom­ic growth and the expan­sion of indi­vid­ual free­doms,” says Louk Fae­sen, project man­ag­er of the GCSC Sec­re­tari­at. “Cyber­space is becom­ing an increas­ing­ly exploit­ed resource that few feel com­pelled to take respon­si­bil­i­ty for, lead­ing to a steady decay of the sta­bil­i­ty and secu­ri­ty of the entire envi­ron­ment.”

Gath­er­ing experts

Using the work of pre­vi­ous commissions—especially the Glob­al Com­mis­sion on Inter­net Gov­er­nance and the Lon­don Process—the GCSC will bring togeth­er “thought lead­ers, researchers and prac­ti­tion­ers” from the cyber­se­cu­ri­ty indus­try, the mil­i­tary, law enforce­ment, the legal indus­try and inter­net gov­er­nance, Fae­sen says.

The organization’s stat­ed mis­sion is “to con­vene key glob­al stake­hold­ers to devel­op pro­pos­als for norms and pol­i­cy ini­tia­tives to improve the sta­bil­i­ty and secu­ri­ty of cyber­space.”

Relat­ed: With no glob­al stan­dard for data pri­va­cy, laws out­side U.S. dif­fer in scope

Chaired by Mari­na Kalju­rand, Estonia’s for­mer for­eign min­is­ter, the GCSC is com­posed of 26 com­mis­sion­ers from more than 15 coun­tries. Co-chairs are Michael Chertoff, for­mer sec­re­tary of the U.S. Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty and Latha Red­dy, India’s for­mer deputy nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er.

The aim when select­ing the com­mis­sion­ers was “a bal­ance of dif­fer­ent exper­tise and views,” Fae­sen says.

Wide per­spec­tives tapped

It is expect­ed that these indi­vid­u­als will be able to inte­grate the knowl­edge gained with­in the GCSC to fur­ther inform their own regimes,” he says.

Olaf Kolk­man, the Inter­net Society’s chief inter­net tech­nol­o­gy offi­cer and a GCSC com­mis­sion­er, says the GCSC pro­vides an oppor­tu­ni­ty “to bring new per­spec­tives to the area of pol­i­cy and inter­na­tion­al sta­bil­i­ty and secu­ri­ty.”

Such top­ics tra­di­tion­al­ly were dis­cussed among diplo­mats, Kolk­man says. The GCSC adds “new voic­es and views of the tech­ni­cal com­mu­ni­ty and oth­er stake­hold­ers to these crit­i­cal con­ver­sa­tions,” he says.

Cyber­space is formed and gov­erned “by a range of dif­fer­ent insti­tu­tions and process­es,” Fae­sen says. “A major chal­lenge is insuf­fi­cient aware­ness and mutu­al accep­tance among the var­i­ous cyber­space com­mu­ni­ties” that work on inter­na­tion­al secu­ri­ty issues.

Shap­ing pol­i­cy

By find­ing ways to link the well-estab­lished dia­logues on inter­na­tion­al secu­ri­ty with the new com­mu­ni­ties cre­at­ed by cyber­space,” he says, the GCSC can con­tribute “to an essen­tial glob­al task—supporting pol­i­cy coher­ence” relat­ed to cyber­space secu­ri­ty and sta­bil­i­ty.

The GCSC will accom­plish its goals, Fae­sen says, with a three-pronged approach: facil­i­tat­ing infor­ma­tion exchange, sup­port­ing basic research, and advo­cat­ing pro­pos­als for action.

The com­mis­sion will meet “a num­ber of times over a three-year peri­od,” encour­ag­ing a “flow of infor­ma­tion and knowl­edge across var­i­ous cyber­space ini­tia­tives,” he says. Work­ing with cyber pol­i­cy and cyber­se­cu­ri­ty experts in the GCSC’s Research Advi­so­ry Group, the com­mis­sion will fund and con­duct research on norms and emerg­ing themes and ideas rel­e­vant to cyber­space sta­bil­i­ty, he says.

The GCSC will make rec­om­men­da­tions for action applic­a­ble to “state and non-state ini­tia­tives,” Fae­sen says. “The com­mis­sion will advo­cate for these rec­om­men­da­tions in cap­i­tals, cor­po­rate head­quar­ters, civ­il soci­ety cen­ters and the wider pub­lic.”

The “increas­ing deploy­ment of state-affil­i­at­ed or direct­ed cyber oper­a­tions for offen­sive pur­pos­es” are inter­na­tion­al peace and secu­ri­ty mat­ters that also can affect glob­al inter­net sta­bil­i­ty and secu­ri­ty,” Fae­sen says.

With­out fur­ther norms on state cyber­space behav­ior, “inad­ver­tent esca­la­tion and dis­pro­por­tion­al response” could occur, he says, and, “in extreme cas­es,” have “adverse con­se­quences on glob­al wel­fare and human civ­i­liza­tion.”

State poli­cies inter­fer­ing with the oper­a­tion of the glob­al inter­net, Fae­sen says, “can lead to a sus­tained decline in user trust in the inter­net and accen­tu­ate the con­se­quences of offen­sive action in cyber­space.”

More sto­ries relat­ed to glob­al secu­ri­ty:
School empow­ers women in Afghanistan by teach­ing them how to code
Snow­den shares views on pri­va­cy, sur­veil­lance at Pri­va­cy XChange Forum
Oppor­tunists call for weak­en­ing encryp­tion in wake of Paris attack


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