The “bad guy” singled out as the most dangerous breed of hacker has changed over the years from the happy hacker, to the malicious hacker, to the serious cyber-criminals. Now a different villain in the hacking world has emerged at the top of the threat list in Washington and European capitals -- nation-states that are equipping themselves for aggressive cyber-war and industrial espionage and theft of intellectual property.
Much of the public discussion about threats in cyberspace has focused on cyber war, crime and short-term malicious activity for economic, political, or public relations gain. Too often each threat is seen as a discrete problem that is approached in a reactive manner geared to the intended targets. Instead, the problem should be viewed as a larger, interconnected issue – really, a continuum of malicious activity -- that requires a strategic and proactive approach by key government and private-sector stakeholders working together, both nationally and internationally.
The EU’s drive to get all 27 member states included on the US Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) has run up against a wall. The view of multiple sources closely monitoring the dossier is that the US Congress will have to pass new legislation before Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland and Romania will have any chance of joining the other EU23. Though some on Capitol Hill are sympathetic to their cause, nothing is likely to happen until 2011 at the earliest. Even if Congress changes the rules to make it easier for the EU4 to enter, they still need to be invited to join by the US administration and there is little indication that the Obama administration is interested in expanding the programme.
On September 23, 2010, The European Institute hosted a luncheon meeting with Ambassador Philip Verveer, U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy at the U.S. Department of State. With the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Plenipotentiary Meeting only weeks in the offing, Ambassador Verveer addressed prospects for a new international telecommunications regulatory regime and emphasized the importance of limiting governmental controls. Additional areas of particular priority for the United States were internet governance and cyber security, and he stressed the importance of U.S.-EU cooperation in the setting of international telecommunications standards. Ambassador Verveer expressed his support for the European Union’s ambitious new digital agenda, and spoke of the productive discussions he has had with officials from the European Commission’s Information Society and Media Directorate. A key mutual interest is the potential of cloud computing, which would make computing infrastructure and services available on a utility-like basis.
In the next war, will the front line be “on line?” This question was the subject of a recent broadcast by “60 Minutes,” the premier news program on U.S. television, which asked: “Will the next war begin not with a bang, but with a blackout?”
© COPYRIGHT THE EUROPEAN INSTITUTE 2009
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