Home / Blogs

Is It Time for a Breakthrough in Securing Cyberspace?

Veni Markovski

This year in July gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency and head of the US Cyber Command participated at DefCon, the hackers conference in Las Vegas.

In his address, gen. Alexander said, among other things, "This is the world's best cybersecurity community. In this room right here is the talent our nation needs to secure cyberspace." And he further asked the hackers to help educate the US Congress.

As someone, who is regularly meeting the top Russian cyber folks, I already know (unofficially, of course) how the words of gen. Alexander were met in Moscow. And you can judge about the official Russian reaction on your own, if you read this or this article, published in the Russian media.

But as someone, who lives in Washington, I can also imagine what the reaction in the US will be, if a speech like this happens to be announced by a Russian general, say, in St. Petersburg. A headline like "Putin's general summons hackers to help Mother Russia" seems possible.

Of course, one may argue, that perhaps some Russian general has already spoken to the Russian hackers, but this would never be made public, because "press in Russia is not free", but I won't agree with this. I won't speak for the press, but the Internet in Russia today is pretty open and publishes a lot of news, which cannot make the mainstream media — same like in the US, or Bulgaria, or wherever. If there has been such a meeting, it hardly would be kept secret.

In the aftermath of DefCon, there are some good lessons for all.

Asking hackers to help defend their own country is not necessarily bad — certainly, it's sounds much better than asking them to help attack another country.

Such a dialogue could have started earlier, not in 2012, and nobody knows if it will continue. But if it will, it should be out, in the open, for all to see.

In the same public way the USA should be talking to foreign governments on cyber — with understanding of the cross-cultural differences, but also making sure everyone is aware that securing cyberspace is in the interest of all countries and citizens, and is a task for everyone — governments, businesses, civil society. This dialog has started many years ago, but there's not enough progress.

It is high time for a breakthrough.

The author was chairman of the Bulgarian President's IT Advisory Committee (2002-2012), and host of the first international South Eastern Europe Conference on Cyber Security Cooperation. The views, expressed in this article are his personal ones, and do not reflect views of any of the organizations the author is affiliated or working with.

By Veni Markovski. More blog posts from Veni Markovski can also be read here.

Related topics: Cyberattack, Cybersecurity, Internet Governance, Policy & Regulation


Don't miss a thing – get the Weekly Wrap delivered to your inbox.


To the extent that this is about Phil Howard  –  Sep 07, 2012 6:26 PM PDT

To the extent that this is about one country vs. another country, this is a bad thing. Of course I want to defend my country (USA) against whatever is bad out there. But I also want to see other countries like Russia also defended from the bad things. Ideally these and other countries should be working together. The bad things should not be nationalism. But this goal is probably still hard to achieve.

To post comments, please login or create an account.

Related Blogs

Related News

Explore Topics

Dig Deeper

Mobile Internet

Sponsored by Afilias Mobile & Web Services


Sponsored by Verisign

DNS Security

Sponsored by Afilias

IP Addressing

Sponsored by Avenue4 LLC

Promoted Posts

Buying or Selling IPv4 Addresses?

Watch this video to discover how ACCELR/8, a transformative IPv4 trading platform developed by industry veterans Marc Lindsey and Janine Goodman, enables organizations to buy or sell IPv4 blocks as small as /20s. more»

Industry Updates – Sponsored Posts

Join Neustar's Town Hall Meeting and Help Shape the Future Of .US

Verisign Named to the Online Trust Alliance's 2017 Audit and Honor Roll

Attacks Decrease by 23 Precent in 1st Quarter While Peak Attack Sizes Increase: DDoS Trends Report

Leading Internet Associations Strengthen Cooperation

i2Coalition to Present Tucows CEO Elliot Noss With Internet Community Leadership Award

Verisign Releases Q4 2016 DDoS Trends Report: 167% Increase in Average Peak Attack from 2015 to 2016

Michele Neylon Appointed Chair Elect of i2Coalition

Verisign Q3 2016 DDoS Trends Report: User Datagram Protocol (UDP) Flood Attacks Continue to Dominate

2016 U.S. Election: An Internet Forecast

Government Guidance for Email Authentication Has Arrived in USA and UK

ValiMail Raises $12M for Its Email Authentication Service

MarkMonitor Supports Brand Holders' Efforts Regarding .Feedback Registry

Don't Gamble With Your DNS

Defending Against Layer 7 DDoS Attacks

Understanding the Risks of the Dark Web

New TLD? Make Sure It's Secure

Verisign Releases Q2 2016 DDoS Trends Report - Layer 7 DDoS Attacks a Growing Trend

How Savvy DDoS Attackers Are Using DNSSEC Against Us

Facilitating a Trusted Web Space for Financial Service Professionals

MarkMonitor Partners with CYREN to Deepen Visibility into Global Phishing Attacks