C4iSR: Joint & Common Equipment

Digital diplomacy - Working towards a cyber code of conduct

04 September 2013
A classroom at the Center for Cyberspace Research, where cadets are taught, at the US Air Force Academy, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on 20 February 2013. The academy trains cadets to prepare for cyber attacks on US military and civilian computer networks that control everything from electrical power grids to the banking system. Source: PA

Key Points

  • Although states have begun to co-operate in countering the threat of cyber crime and terrorism, the development of rules to govern state interaction within cyberspace is still in its infancy.
  • A draft code of conduct proposed by China and Russia in 2011 is the first to set out ground rules for state behaviour in cyberspace.
  • Differing national views on the role of state authority and the control of information make the adoption of the Sino-Russian code unlikely in the short term, although it could form the basis of a more constructive policy dialogue on cyber security.

Since the US government took the unprecedented step in May 2013 of publicly identifying China as the principal perpetrator of alleged state-sponsored cyber attacks directed at US governmental and business interests, there has been increasing recognition of the need to develop new international norms to govern the conduct of states within cyberspace.

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