t a s k f o r c e o n n a t i o n a l s e c u r i t y a n d l a w
Prospects for a cybersecurity treaty seem to have improved in the last year. TheRussians have long proposed a cyberwarfare “arms-limitation” treaty. Until recently,the United States has balked at the proposal. But the U.S. government is in theprocess of reconsidering its position.
Last June, National Security Agency (NSA)Director Keith Alexander said of the Russian proposal: “I do think that we have toestablish the rules, and I think what Russia has put forward is, perhaps, the startingpoint for international debate.”
Former NSA and Central Intelligence Agency DirectorGeneral Michael Hayden made a similar proposal in late July.
The United Nationsrecently reported progress on cybersecurity treaty talks, and the North Atlantic TreatyOrganization and the International Telecommunications Union are also exploringpossible cybersecurity agreements. Many commentators think that such agreementsare necessary and inevitable.This essay sounds a skeptical note. Part I explains why international cooperation isthought to be a central solution to the cybersecurity problem. Part II sketches thecautionary lessons to be gleaned from our experiences with the Cybercrime Convention.Parts III-V examine three major hurdles to a global cybersecurity treaty: the lack of mutualinterest; the problems the United States has in making concessions adequate to gainreciprocal benets; and the problem of verication. Part VI briey considers thefeasibility of narrower and softer forms of cooperation.
I. The Demand for International Cooperation
Cyber attacks and cyber exploitations from around the globe are growing in numberand sophistication, and governments, especially ours, are worried. Defenders againstsuch attacks often cannot quickly or easily tell when their systems are attackedor exploited. When defenders discover an attack or exploitation, the computer orgeographical source often cannot be ascertained quickly or precisely. If a computeror geographical source is identied, it is hard to know whether a computer somewhereelse is responsible. Even if one has certain knowledge about which computer in theworld was the ultimate source of the attack or exploitation, it is often hard to knowwhether the human agent behind it is a private party or a government. If the latter,
A Skeptical View
by Jack goldsmithKoret-aube ask force o natioal ecurity ad aw