Think tanks mull Geneva Convention for cybercrime

One way to protect critical national infrastructure from cyberwar is to promise not to attack it, policy wonks say

A Geneva Convention on cyberwar: That's how a panel of experts proposes to deal with the growing threat to critical infrastructure posed by the possibility of cyberattack.

With control systems in dams, hospitals, power grids and industrial systems increasingly exposed online, it's possible that nation states could seek to damage or disable them electronically.

But building electronic defenses to prevent such attacks is expensive -- and often ineffectual, given the myriad ways in which they can fail or be breached.

That's why the Global Commission on Internet Governance recommends that in any future cyberwar, governments should pledge to restrict the list of legitimate targets for cyberattacks, to not target critical infrastructure predominantly used by civilians, and to not to use cyberweapons against core Internet infrastructure.

While a gentleman's agreement might not seem like much protection, for a nation to break such a taboo would be to risk an all-out attack in retaliation, the commission suggested in "One Internet," a new report on the future of the Internet.

An agreement won't eliminate all risks of cyberattack for civilian infrastructure, of course: Just as with the protection afforded hospitals and the like under the existing Geneva Conventions, there will always be those willing to ignore the rules.

"For some sub-state terrorist groups and rogue states, making daily life difficult for their enemies is already their policy and they have less to lose as they already regard themselves as being in a state of conflict," the report said. "Sporadic attacks on vulnerable systems and markets are to be expected."

The report is not just about cyberwar. Its whistle-stop tour of Internet ethics also takes in surveillance, privacy, anonymity, censorship and child protection, with additional chapters on reducing online crime and the threat that blockchain technologies pose to the established order.

The Global Commission on Internet Governance is chaired by former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt and was set up by two think tanks: Chatham House in the U.K. and the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Canada. CIGI was founded by former BlackBerry co-CEO Jim Balsillie.

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Mobile

Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?