Issues of cyberspace control gaining international significance

15 may 2014

A roundtable on “Modern principles and approaches to using IT technologies in the context of providing information security for Russia” was held by the Analytical Center together with the Institute for International Studies of MGIMO.

Opening the roundtable, the Head of the Directorate for Information Technologies of the Analytical Center Aleksey Khromov pointed out that in the modern world information technologies permeate all spheres of public administration, and thus technological and legal aspects of their use can have a considerable impact on work efficiency of public authorities.

According to the Director of the Institute for International Studies of MGIMO Alexander Orlov, the U.S. has monopolized this sphere and by spreading its own information while blocking all other content is actively influencing other countries. “Several Russian websites have recently been under hacker attack, which revealed certain vulnerability of the Russian cyberspace,” he added.

General Director of “InfoRos” Denis Turin agreed with Mr. Orlov. “Between March and April this year a number of Russian websites, including websites of public authorities, fell victim to massive Internet-attacks. The websites were hacked, with their content subsequently changed,” he said. Among the websites affected were those of the President of the Russian Federation and the Bank of Russia, while those of Russia’s “Channel one”, Internet magazine Life News and Russia Today experienced disruption. “A Ukrainian team of hackers actively supporting pro-Maidan fighters officially claimed responsibility for those information subversions,” Mr. Turin said and added that Russia did not take those attacks seriously. In conclusion, the expert remarked that it is important to react to such incidents and proposed to set up an international research center for cyberspace security.

The roundtable participants agreed that issues of cyberspace control are becoming of international significance. At the end of April this year Sao Paulo (Brazil) hosted a global conference on internet infrastructure management NETmudial-2014 attended by Russian experts. One of them was Leonid Todorov, Deputy Director of the Coordination Center of the Russian National Internet Domain who said that as a result of the Forum a “Roadmap” and a document on “Internet management principles” were adopted. However, neither of them is official and consequently governments do not have to put them into practice. “At the end of the Forum no consensus was reached and the global Internet will not benefit from this event,” Mr. Todorov concluded.

It should be noted that Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), an international non-profit organization founded with the participation of the U.S. government, is currently regulating the Internet. “The Internet is no longer the national resource of the U.S., consequently the Americans have slightly changed the status of ICAAN,” informed another member of our delegation in Sao Paulo Boris Vasyliev, currently employed by the Department of New Challenges and Threats of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. According to him, the U.S. is planning to reconsider its agreements with this company and render it independent. “In this case the principle of the multilateral model will be implemented in a way that is unsatisfactory for us; after all, all countries, apart from the U.S., play an advisory role in it and decisions will be taken by the ICANN Board,” believes Mr. Vasyliev. The expert is certain that making ICANN an independent international organization will not solve the problem as the latter will still perform within the legal framework of a certain country –the U.S.  In this question the Russian side relies heavily on the idea of internalization – that is passing managerial functions down to a new or already existing intergovernmental organization.

In the course of the event, experts also discussed such the issue of implementing the most effective foreign and national protective systems against computer attacks in complexes of automation facilities for public authorities and electronic media. The roundtable participants identified key challenges existing within the given sphere: according to their opinion, such attacks are becoming increasingly complex and are happening more often.