Cybersecurity Pledge Signed by 27 Countries
January 07, 2020
PRIVACY AND FREEDOM
Now that we're in another presidential election year, an issue that garnered significant international attention four years ago is again a hot topic of debate: cybersecurity. In the leadup to the 2016 election, hacking by foreign countries, Russia in particular, became a central focal point of campaigning on both sides, and it’s sure to again take center stage — particularly as dozens of countries around the world took a stand on the issue with a cybersecurity pledge.
The United States was one of 27 nations that signed onto a pledge this fall condemning cyberattacks designed to infiltrate another country’s infrastructure or further the attacking nation’s political pursuits. While not named directly, Russia and China were presumably top of mind by many signatories of the cybersecurity pledge, as they both have documented histories of staging large-scale, politically motivated cyberattacks internationally. For instance, the pledge condemns actions that undermine democracy, seemingly pointed at highly publicized Russian interference in the U.S. and other international elections, which many cybersecurity experts caution is likely an ongoing issue that could again affect the 2020 election. China’s history of cyberattacks on private businesses to obtain trade secrets that benefit Chinese companies was also the likely motivator behind a select passage of the cybersecurity pledge that decries business attacks.
While the document didn’t directly name those sources, it also didn’t directly name any potential penalties for those who violate the tenets of the cybersecurity pledge. It called for “consequences for bad behavior in cyberspace,” but lacked further information about what such consequences may be.
American’s new cybersecurity workforce paired with the cybersecurity pledge is a significant first step toward reducing the international implications of cyberattacks, which are growing increasingly more sophisticated and prevalent. A strong and unified voice, such as that provided by the 27 countries who signed onto the pledge, sends an important message that the world is on high alert for cybercrime—and the next step is a clear definition of ramifications to illustrate a serious deterrent for those looking to use the internet for political gain.
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