Thursday, November 29, 2012

International Regulatory Framework for Cybersecurity

Increasing government, military, and industry reliance on the cyber domain has incentivized cyber crime and heightened the cost of internet disruptions. Many vulnerable states—such as Romania and Bulgaria—want to reduce cyber crime within their borders but lack the political will necessary to allocate sufficient funds. Current U.S. policy emphasizes unconditional assistance for vulnerable U.S. allies. This approach, however, discourages these states from prioritizing cybersecurity in their budgets and ultimately increases Washington’s fiscal burden for fighting cyber crime.

To encourage vulnerable states to prioritize cybersecurity, NATO should create and administer an international Cyber Grade Framework (CGF). The primary purpose of this program is to help establish and implement rigorous international cybersecurity standards to hinder the operation of cyber crime and hacktivist groups, while more efficiently using current U.S. aid to produce greater cyber resiliency amongst its allies. The CGF would not require an increase of funding, but simply a more efficient reallocation of existing cybersecurity funds.

The CGF is based on the Thornberry Cybersecurity Task Force private-sector incentive model that seeks to encourage industry to adopt greater cybersecurity standards absent the existence of government mandates. At the international level, this model is the best approach for generating better cybersecurity standards given the political obstacles confronting compulsory international regulations. Participating states would be awarded grades based on the quality of their cybersecurity infrastructure. States that adopt a grade’s requirements would receive a set of associated incentives increasing incrementally with each security grade attained. They include access to: (1) law enforcement cyber training programs; (2) NATO cyber rapid reaction teams; (3) limited technology transfer; and (4) intelligence sharing. In addition to encouraging participating states to make cybersecurity a priority, this policy would strengthen their ties with the international community, creating a more secure global network.

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