Cyber Arms Control: Trust, but Don’t Verify?

Cyber Arms Control: Trust, but Don’t Verify?

In the twenty-first century, attacks against computer systems and networks emerged as powerful tools of warfare.

During the 2008 invasion of the Republic of Georgia, Georgian computer systems suffered attacks in parallel to Russia’s conventional offensive. In 2010, the Stuxnet computer worm damaged the Iranian nuclear facilities at Bushehr and Natanz. Recognizing the threat posed by state sponsored cyber attacks, the Pentagon recently accused the Chinese military of attacking U.S. systems.

Interest in a cyber arms control regime has developed as cases of state sponsored cyber war increase. Yet due to the anonymity of cyberspace, treaties seeking to limit cyber weapons will lack the crucial verification component.

Two major challenges prevent the replication of traditional arms control agreements in cyberspace:

  • Verification: Arms control treaties require verification mechanisms and reliance on a “trust, but verify” model. Yet current technologies cannot verify compliance with any ban on cyber weapons or cyber war tactics
  • Attribution: Cyber weapons are not solely under the control of state actors, and tracking the source of a cyber attack presents unique challenges with no equivalent in traditional arms control. Even if the origination of an attack is tracked to within a state’s borders, unequivocally distinguishing between a state sponsored cyber attack and one led by a private citizen remains impossible

While a verifiable arms control treaty remains out of reach given the limitations of current technologies, strategies for mitigating a cyber arms race could include:

  • Forging agreements to foster transnational cooperation in cyber forensics to identify the perpetrator of attacks,  thereby developing trust and conceivably creating a deterrent
  • Establishing peacetime norms of behavior in cyberspace that reflect the structure for acceptable cyber activities, similar to the arms control norms currently affecting state actions in the domain of space

A verifiable cyber arms control treaty remains a nonstarter. Yet the international community should act to form cooperative agreements and shape new international norms that promote restraint in cyberspace. 

Contributors

* Arc Aspicio |

Arc Aspicio is a management, strategy, and technology consulting firm that takes a mission-oriented approach to complex client challenges. As a rapidly growing company, Arc Aspicio has a bold strategy for 2016-2018 that drives growth through new capabilities in strategy, design, human capital, data analytics, information sharing, cybersecurity, and strategic communications. The company is known for a strong, collaborative culture that values gratitude – for its clients and its great team. And, #welovedogs! Follow us on Twitter @arcaspicio or learn more at www.arcaspicio.com.

Lynn Ann Casey / Chief Executive Officer
info@arcaspicio.com
703.465.2060

Top Qualities of Design Thinking Leaders

Top Qualities of Design Thinking Leaders

Design Thinking is on the rise in the business world. Design Thinking leaders focus on creating the best product for their clients and working with the experiences and insight of fellow coworkers. Some of the key characteristics of Design Thinking leaders present themselves in individuals who are open and subject themselves to vulnerability with clients and coworkers. These qualities help leaders to connect and build relationships with others. They also create an open flow of communication that allows for others to better share their knowledge to align with and understand the company's mission.

Think, Key, Speak: Purposeful Communications

Think, Key, Speak: Purposeful Communications

I spent the early years of my career in the United States Navy as a Naval Flight Officer on the E-2C Hawkeye, the Navy’s aircraft carrier-based Airborne Early Warning and Command and Control platform. The various missions of the aircraft demand that aircrew monitor up to ten radio frequencies, and actively speak on three or four of those, at any given moment in flight.

How Can Communities Ready Themselves for a Major Power Grid Event?

How Can Communities Ready Themselves for a Major Power Grid Event?

Communities are often the foundation for an expedited recovery following major events. But how can communities strengthen their response to, for example, a major cyber-attack or natural event, such as an Electronic Magnetic Pulse solar flare? A United States electrical grid failure could destroy a number of the nation’s high voltage transformers causing widespread outages for several weeks, even months. A public health emergency could quickly ensue particularly among the vulnerable as the ripple effects cause significant societal disruption. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) strategic plan encourages and empowers communities to prepare for the inevitable impacts of future disasters. How can communities prime for major events?

Confessions of a Chief Strategy Officer

Confessions of a Chief Strategy Officer

I’ll admit it, I was a little smug. After more than 20 years in the consulting business helping clients develop, implement, and integrate their strategies, I thought… “how hard could it be to do the same things for my own company – a company of consultants?” I had the commitment of my leadership, a group of talented people, and a plan and resources to grow the company. We had energy and we had a great process and tools to successful. What could go wrong?

Exploring Trends in Strategic Workforce Planning (Attract, Engage, and Retain)

Exploring Trends in Strategic Workforce Planning (Attract, Engage, and Retain)

Federal agencies have been undergoing significant transformation, requiring effective workforce strategies that can assist them in facing increasing challenges. As government leaders look for and implement initiatives to improve performance, Strategic Workforce Planning, (SWP) has become instrumental in assisting organizations to focus on their most important resource: their people

#Innovate Your Heart Out: We See an Innovation Day in Your Future

#Innovate Your Heart Out: We See an Innovation Day in Your Future

Innovation is difficult to harness for organizations of all sizes (Government and private sector alike). Replicating a process to encourage and produce innovation is even more challenging. Innovating in a structured space and time seems counter-intuitive, and begs the question: can thinking outside the box be a structured activity? Arc Aspicio recently held an Innovation Day to answer this question.

A Unified Brand Helps Serve a Complex Mission

A Unified Brand Helps Serve a Complex Mission

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), created in 2003, undertook the most significant reorganization of federal agencies since the Cold War. It brought together federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial agencies with a focus on securing the U.S. from threats in a collaborative way. DHS pulls together five complex mission areas: preventing terrorism and enhancing security; managing our borders; administering immigration laws; securing cyberspace; and ensuring disaster resilience.