Obama aims to avoid a ‘cycle of escalation’ in cyberattacks by countries

The US is working towards norms of behavior for countries in cyberspace

U.S. President Barack Obama said his country has had problems with cyber intrusions from Russia and other countries in the past, but aims to establish some norms of behavior rather than let the issue escalate as happened in arms races in the past.

Obama’s statement on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China, after he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, did not refer specifically to a recent hack of the Democratic National Committee of the Democratic Party that the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is probing.

Politically embarrassing emails from the breach were leaked ahead of the convention of the party, with many security experts holding that the hack had the backing of Russian intelligence services. Whistleblowing website WikiLeaks released the emails but did not disclose their source. The U.S. government hasn’t blamed Russia for the incident.

U.S. authorities are also said to be investigating the hack of another Democratic Party organization, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The FBI has also reportedly warned election officials across the country to take measures to secure their computer systems, after foreign attackers were found to have hacked two state election databases in Illinois and Arizona.

“I am not going to comment on specific investigations that are still live and active, but I'll tell you that we had problems with cyber intrusions from Russia in the past, from other countries in the past," Obama told reporters, according to news outlets. 

The president described moving into a new era where a number of countries have significant cyber capacities, and “frankly we have got more capacity than anybody both offensively and defensively,” he said in an apparent warning to the Russians. 

He said the goal of the U.S. was not to duplicate in cyberspace a “cycle of escalation” akin to other arms races in the past, but to start “instituting some norms" so that everybody is acting responsibly.

Obama said there are going to be enough problems in cyberspace with "non-state actors" using the Internet for theft and other illegal purposes, which creates the need for protecting critical infrastructure and securing financial systems.

"What we cannot do is have a situation in which, certainly, this becomes the wild, wild West, where countries that have significant cyber capacity start engaging in unhealthy competition or conflict through these means," Obama said. He said he had discussed the topic of cybersecurity norms with Putin and earlier with some other countries, and is already seeing some willingness from a lot of countries to adopt the rules, though it will have to be seen whether they are following them.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?