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U.S. Running Out Of Allies On Cyber Battlefield

International cyber policy and enforcement, and ownership over the Internet are thorny topics that will be tackled at the 2014 RSA Conference next week

International cyber policy and enforcement and ownership over the Internet are all thorny topics, particularly since the Edward Snowden leaks. All of these subjects will be tackled at the RSA Conference next week in a panel discussion titled "Cyber Battle: The Future of Conflict."

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Outdated extradition treaties are not prepared to deal with the borderless realm of the Internet. Although there are rules about international airspace and international waters, there is no defined international cyberspace. Without discrete laws to be enforced, cybercrime investigations and prosecutions rely less upon a set of established directives and more upon an international spirit of cooperation.

Yet recent events have disturbed that spirit of cooperation. Dmitri Alperovitch, panel moderator and co-founder and CTO of CrowdStrike, says that while the U.S.'s traditional allies are publicly taking a stand against American spying, unofficially they're much more understanding and less surprised.

However, says Alperovitch, the Snowden scandal has increased the "lack of trust from the rest of the world in the continued U.S. leadership of the Internet."

Although there is no one "owner" of the Internet, most of the world's root DNS servers reside within the United States and ICANN is an American corporation that operates as part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Over recent years there has been a great deal of discussion over Internet governance, and movements to wrest the power away from the U.S. and place it in the hands of the United Nations, specifically the International Telecommunication Union. Thus far, these efforts have failed.

"All the energy and push is on the other side, [not the U.S.]," Alperovitch says, "particularly with countries that are fearful of a free Internet."

Alperovitch points out that even American allies do not all share the American stances on freedom of the press. He also referenced the U.S.'s efforts to push China to destroy the "Great Firewall of China" and support a free and open Internet.

"Since the Snowden revelation, the U.S. agenda on China has been completely derailed," he says.

While all this is happening, the number of malicious actors and government-approved spying on the Internet is expanding and the number of countries involved in the activity is increasing.

"You can pretty much assume that everyone is spying on everyone," he says. "How can we get back to a safer Internet that we've enjoyed that now seems just like a memory?"

Alperovitch's panel will take place next Thursday morning, Feb. 27. Panelists include Eric Rosenbach, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cyber Policy of the Department of Defense, James Lewis, Program Director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Jason Healey, Director of Cyber Statecraft Initiative for the Atlantic Council, and Martin Libicki, Senior Scientist of RAND.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Sara Peters is Senior Editor at Dark Reading and formerly the editor-in-chief of Enterprise Efficiency. Prior that she was senior editor for the Computer Security Institute, writing and speaking about virtualization, identity management, cybersecurity law, and a myriad ... View Full Bio

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