A network of nations: Why effective cybersecurity requires international collaboration
The Internet has revolutionized modern life across the globe, enabling dramatic advancements in technology and communications. Furthermore, the Internet has triggered a dramatic improvement in the efficiency and capabilities of people, organizations, and governments around the world. Regretfully, the Internet also exposes its users to increasing collection of new risks and vulnerabilities. These risks affect organizations and individuals across the planet, but they also pose unique threats to nations. Coupled with the architecture of the Internet itself, these risks demonstrate why international involvement is required for effective cybersecurity.
One examples of such a risk involves threats to the Domain Name System (DNS), a critical component employed in countless applications on the Internet that depend upon DNS reliability and integrity. Despite the serious consequences of disrupting these activities, vulnerabilities in the DNS that enable such disruptions have been known for over a decade. Only relatively recently has progress been made on the adoption of DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC), a collection of security “fixes” that would close many security holes within DNS, with a great deal more work needed before these issues can be considered fully addressed.
Botnets offer another example of a key challenge to international cybersecurity efforts and illustrate how the surge of power and productivity created by the Internet has also created opportunities for the world's criminal minds. Exploring the impact botnets have on cybersecurity and the Internet illustrates how basic aspects of network communication and everyday activity on the Internet have been leveraged to create the equivalent of a geographically-dispersed supercomputer. Botnets pose unique and complex challenges to a wide range of international relations issues and activities, most notably law enforcement and data protection.
Thankfully, increasingly many international bodies have begun to recognize the importance of cybersecurity and their efforts, though in many cases nascent and unproven, represent an important step. Through careful planning, appropriate involvement of the necessary stakeholders, and a proper respect for the global nature of these new threats, countries can achieve essential progress in cybersecurity.
0601: International Relations
0616: International law