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Russia should devise symmetric response to US cyber threats

To be able to effectively resist US cyber threats and adopt an international code of conduct in the cyber space Russia must devise symmetric offensive information technologies, experts polled by TASS said after Germany's Der Spiegel magazine published another portion of disclosures by former US National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden.

According to the former secret service employee the NSA develops and spreads malware capable of putting out of order potential enemies' crucial infrastructures, such as banks, power and water supply, industrial plants and airports. The armed forces' control systems are the main target. Der Spiegel says up to 40,000 of NSA staff are involved in electronic spying and cyber wars. The agency's overall spending on cyberspace-related software in 2013 exceeded one billion dollars.

"We have learned no hair-raising details from what Edward Snowden had leaked to Der Spiegel magazine. Specialists have long been familiar with the hacker methods Snowden describes - that's the natural way the development of information technologies follows. What makes the latest disclosures by Snowden fundamentally new is the United States, aware of its supremacy, does not bother to respect international treaties on security in cyberspace," the deputy director of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of US and Canada Studies, Major-General Pavel Zolotaryov, has told TASS.

"Russia has more than once urged the adoption of international standards of behaviour in the cyberspace. Russia and its Shanghai Cooperation Organization partners made the latest attempt to persuade the other countries a code of conduct in the cyberspace is a vital need on January 9 by spreading at the United Nations an updated version of a code of conduct by states in the sphere of international information security," Zolotaryov said.

"If we really wish to achieve the conclusion of an international treaty, Russia should acquire capabilities identical to those at the US disposal in developing offensive technologies in the networks. Russia's response must be symmetric," the analyst said.

"As for the vulnerability of systems of control of Russia's nuclear forces to hypothetical US cyber attacks, we have always developed these systems as autonomous. In this context power supply grids are vulnerable, and we should give thought to ways of their reliable protection," Zolotaryov said.

"I believe that the United States' cyber potential is rather a potential of political pressures on Russia. I rule out a situation in which it might be put to use in practice," he said.

"If cyber attacks were really capable of upsetting the operation of command posts of Russia's top military leadership, they would have stripped the Strategic Missile Force Command of an opportunity to effectively and competently control the nuclear arsenals. That would increase the risk of unintentional missile attacks and even trigger a world disaster. I do not believe the US really has such plans. The way I see it, Snowden slightly overdid it this time," the leading research fellow at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Centre for International Security, member of the Russian Academy of Missile and Artillery Sciences, Major-General Vladimir Dvorkin, told TASS.

"To be able to resist the means of radio-electronic warfare Russia should be more active in developing this sphere of modern technologies and to get ready to a war of knowledge. The one who has a better understanding of what is going on in the media space will emerge the winner in a future war. Everything depends on the human capital. It is not accidental that the United States keeps gathering the best minds from all over the world in its Silicon Valley," a member of the operating board of the Skolkovo Foundation, Vladimir Rubanov, has told TASS.

"These days, when a race of information weapons is on, the task of maintaining security in the cyber space will require keeping its legal basics under international control," Rubanov concluded.

[Source: By Tamara Zamyatina, Itar Tass, Moscow, 20Jan15]

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Privacy and counterintelligence
small logoThis document has been published on 22Jan15 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.