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U.S., Russia Forge Cybersecurity Pact

The two countries plan to regularly share information and improve communication on security, as part of Obama administration plan.

Inside DHS' Classified Cyber-Coordination Headquarters
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Slideshow: Inside DHS' Classified Cyber-Coordination Headquarters
The United States plans to start regularly sharing cybersecurity information with Russia as part of the Obama administration's efforts to re-establish closer ties to that country and clear up misconceptions surrounding the two nations' cyber policies.

Cybersecurity officials from both countries met last month to discuss policy coordination at a Russian delegation in Washington led by Russian National Security Council Deputy Secretary Nikolay Klimashin, according to a White House blog post by U.S. Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt.

"Both the U.S. and Russia are committed to tackling common cybersecurity threats while at the same time reducing the chances a misunderstood incident could negatively affect our relationship," he said.

Misunderstood incidents may include attacks on U.S. government infrastructure and networks by Russian hackers, who have raised their threat profile significantly in the last several years. The recent attacks on networks either owned by or containing information related to the federal government by Anonymous, LulzSec, and AntiSec hactivist groups have shed new light on this risk.

At the meeting, officials made a pact for collaboration on cybersecurity, including the exchange of military views on cyberspace operations and a regular information exchange between the Computer Emergency Response/Readiness Teams (CERTs) of both countries, according to a joint statement about the meeting by Schmidt and Klimashin.

The two countries also plan to use existing crisis-prevention communications links between the two countries to establish protocols for communicating about cybersecurity, they said.

"While deepening mutual understanding on national security issues in cyberspace, these measures will help our two governments better communicate about small- and large-scale threats to our networks, facilitate better collaboration in responding to those threats, and reduce the prospect of escalation in response to crisis incidents," officials said.

The two countries agreed to implement the cybersecurity measures by the end of the year, they added.

Just as the political relationship historically between the United States and Russia has been strained, so have their ideas about cybersecurity.

In 2009 the two countries famously disagreed over the issue, with Russia favoring an international treaty to secure cyberspace against threats and the United States promoting instead more intimate cooperation among international law-enforcement officials.

Fostering better collaboration with foreign nations on cyberspace policy is a key aspect of President Obama's International Strategy for Cyberspace Policy, which he released in May.

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