EU considers baking new norms of cyber-war into security policies

Plan to paint US, China and Russia as rogues gather steam


The European Parliament has been asked to adopt a new set of “norms” about online conflict.

The norms were developed by the Global Commission on the Stability for Cyberspace (GCSC), a group backed and funded by the governments of The Netherlands, France and Singapore, together with Microsoft and The Internet Society, that works to safeguard the Internet. One of the ways the GCSC thinks it can achieve its mission is by defining rules of cyber-war and having as many nations as possible sign up to them. As explained to The Register by GCSC commissioner Bill Woodcock, the group knows that rules alone can’t stop nations' offensive actions in cyberspace, but feels that if rules are in place and widely-endorsed, it’s easier for the international community to condemn governments that choose to ignore accepted practices.

The GCSC’s norms suggest that core internet protocols like DNS, border gateway protocol and IPv6, and the infrastructure that keeps them running, should be off-limits during cyber-conflict because of the likely unpleasant effects on civilians.

Support for that idea has strengthened a little thanks to recently-proposed amendments to the EU Cybersecurity Act that call for “the development and promotion of policies that would sustain the general availability or integrity of the public core of the open internet, which provide the essential functionality to the Internet as a whole and which underpin its normal operation” and go onto mention DNS, BGP, and IPv6.

The amendments include that language because “The protection of the public core of the internet is an emerging norm that is supported by the Global Commission on the Stability for Cyberspace, which received its mandate from the conclusions of the 4th Global Conference on CyberSpace … as well as the 5th Report of the UN Group of Governmental Experts.”

The GCSC’s approach has also been suggested as worthy of inclusion in a resolution on Cyber Defense being considering by the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs.

There’s still lots of negotiating before this stuff gets to a vote, never mind passes, but the mere fact GCSC-formulated norms have made it this far suggest its approach is starting to work. And if the European Parliament adopts GCSC norms, it will be easier to suggest that other nations do likewise, a little harder for nations to ignore them and perhaps one day lead to more civilised cyber-wars. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Uncle Sam to clip wings of Pegasus-like spyware – sorry, 'intrusion software' – with proposed export controls

    Surveillance tech faces trade limits as America syncs policy with treaty obligations

    More than six years after proposing export restrictions on "intrusion software," the US Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has formulated a rule that it believes balances the latitude required to investigate cyber threats with the need to limit dangerous code.

    The BIS on Wednesday announced an interim final rule that defines when an export license will be required to distribute what is basically commercial spyware, in order to align US policy with the 1996 Wassenaar Arrangement, an international arms control regime.

    The rule [PDF] – which spans 65 pages – aims to prevent the distribution of surveillance tools, like NSO Group's Pegasus, to countries subject to arms controls, like China and Russia, while allowing legitimate security research and transactions to continue. Made available for public comment over the next 45 days, the rule is scheduled to be finalized in 90 days.

    Continue reading
  • Global IT spending to hit $4.5 trillion in 2022, says Gartner

    The future's bright, and expensive

    Corporate technology soothsayer Gartner is forecasting worldwide IT spending will hit $4.5tr in 2022, up 5.5 per cent from 2021.

    The strongest growth is set to come from enterprise software, which the analyst firm expects to increase by 11.5 per cent in 2022 to reach a global spending level of £670bn. Growth has fallen slightly, though. In 2021 it was 13.6 per cent for this market segment. The increase was driven by infrastructure software spending, which outpaced application software spending.

    The largest chunk of IT spending is set to remain communication services, which will reach £1.48tr next year, after modest growth of 2.1 per cent. The next largest category is IT services, which is set to grow by 8.9 per cent to reach $1.29tr over the next year, according to the analysts.

    Continue reading
  • Memory maker Micron moots $150bn mega manufacturing moneybag

    AI and 5G to fuel demand for new plants and R&D

    Chip giant Micron has announced a $150bn global investment plan designed to support manufacturing and research over the next decade.

    The memory maker said it would include expansion of its fabrication facilities to help meet demand.

    As well as chip shortages due to COVID-19 disruption, the $21bn-revenue company said it wanted to take advantage of the fact memory and storage accounts for around 30 per cent of the global semiconductor industry today.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021