Quick Study

By Brian Robinson

Blog archive

Cyber war, drug war -- what's the difference?

Some senators introduced a bipartisan bill this week that would require the U.S. government to crack down on countries that harbor cyber criminals by imposing sanctions, if necessary.

The International Cybercrime Reporting and Cooperation Act, co-sponsored by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), is being likened to the beginning of a cyber version of the war on drugs.

Apparently, the president would be required to report annually to Congress on the state of particular countries’ use of information technology in their infrastructure, how much cyber crime is based in that country, what the country is doing to fight cyber crime, etc. The resulting table of cyber crime offenders would then be used to decide what sanctions to apply.

The war on drugs is a good analogy, but the bill is also similar to older efforts to try to stamp out anti-competitive trade practices. In fact, many of the countries that regularly found themselves highlighted in those reports – China, Russia and others – would probably also appear at the top of the cyber crime tables.

One thing that’s different is that the Gillibrand-Hatch bill calls on the United States to focus its carrot-and-stick approach on countries that don’t have much of a cyber infrastructure now, so that any aid the U.S. provides to help them build that infrastructure would be tied to making sure those cyber-poor nations keep the criminals out.

Sounds cool, except that the analogies don’t provide for much optimism. The war on drugs has largely been a failure, and the trade sanctions stuff mainly served to make people mad and resulted in very little real reduction in anti-competitive behavior.

Also, as this Ars Technica story points out, the countries that have reputedly been the most active in hosting domestic hacker/cyber crime efforts – such as China and Russia – don’t get a lot of aid from the U.S. and are only too happy to thumb their noses at us.

A final point: Is this bill, and other legislation like it that will presumably come along, a prelude to a cyber Cold War? I mean, if we are talking about analogies, why not throw that one out there? Once we actually decide on what cyber war is, that seems a natural next step.

Posted by Brian Robinson on Mar 25, 2010 at 9:03 AM


Reader Comments

Fri, Apr 2, 2010

Once The Bamster takes over the Internet, we'll all be safe.

Fri, Mar 26, 2010 TYC U.S. run by Idiots

This country is run by complete idiots who know very little of the world outside their offices and homes. So, we're going to borrow money from a foreign country to give to foreign country to play nice with our networks. If this works like our war on drugs, then it will be an abject failure. After decades of the war on drugs, each year I get a bigger variety drugs of better quality and cheaper prices. How is that winning anything? And, we want to bring that track record to our network security? Yep, this country is run by idiots.

Fri, Mar 26, 2010 malcolm kyle

How about a war on pointless and dangerous wars? No amount of money, police powers, weaponry, diminution of rights and liberties, wishful thinking or pseudo-science will make our streets safer; only an end to prohibition can do that. How much longer are you willing to foolishly risk your own survival by continuing to ignore the obvious, historically confirmed solution? If you still support the kool aid mass suicide cult of prohibition, and erroneously believe that you can win a war without logic and practical solutions, then prepare yourself for even more death, corruption, terrorism, sickness, imprisonment, unemployment, foreclosed homes, and the complete loss of the rule of law and the Bill of Rights. "A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded." Abraham Lincoln The only thing prohibition successfully does is prohibit regulation & taxation!

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