Idea of cyber peacekeepers premature, 'redundant'

Summary:Lack of literature defining cyber acts of war and existing efforts from governments and advocacy groups to safeguard online environment make creating cyber peacekeepers unnecessary, observers say.

Cyber peacekeepers might be an interesting and useful idea, but such a deployment would be difficult to envision and repetitive of the efforts currently made by governments and advocacy groups, observers noted.

John Ong, regional director of South Asia at Check Point Software, described the concept of cyber peacekeepers as similar to a governmental employee working for the Internet regulatory authority. Their job scope would be to define, observe and legislate to maximum compliance, and provide regulatory recommendations to improve existing laws to curb and minimize breaches, he added in his e-mail.

However, he felt that deploying such peacekeepers would be "redundant". This is because there are already peacekeeping efforts in the form of inter-government cooperation to curb Web breaches, as well as those from educational and non-profit advocacy organizations, he explained.

"Therefore, creating yet another redundant hierarchy or organization would not enhance peace, [but] merely adds to expenditure," Ong stated.

Anthony Lim, regional director of SecureAge, agreed with Ong's definition of cyber peacekeepers and their job scopes, but added that it would be difficult for such a force to patrol the cyber arena or prevent any offensive action by cybercriminals or governmental agencies.

"While the idea is interesting and useful, [but practically speaking], it's hard to envision the deployment as there is no physical or visible battlefield for cyber warfare and hence cyber troops, peacekeepers or otherwise," he said.

Another security watcher, Kurt Baumgartner, also noted there is no existing military doctrine or legal framework that defines what cyber incidents can be considered as acts of war, which makes the proposed concept of cyber peacekeepers premature.

"It's the wrong solution for a completely different set of problems," the senior security researcher at Kaspersky Labs told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail.

The three were replying to the comments made by John Burngarner, who is from the U.S. cyber consequences unit in Washington, in a BBC report last month, in which he said there is a need for a virtual peacekeeping force.

"The United Nations needs to figure out how they can deploy peacekeepers in the digital borders of a nation, virtual peacekeepers that would protect the peace," he said.

Integrate efforts, take preventive actions
To better address increasing online threats, Ong stressed that the best way forward would still be to continue continue integrating efforts between stakeholders. For example, governments and non-profit organizations can work on education and advocacy while commercial organizations and work on vested research, technologies and engaging with the citizenry, he added.

Lim had a different perspective, though, in which he likened cyberattacks to diseases. He said that it was "impractical" to stop germs from attacking, or attacking it back.

"You can't immediately attack back or try to make peace unless you know where the source of attack is coming from. There is also a danger of collateral damage if you fight back and realize it happened to be an innocent server that had been hijacked by the cyber perpetrator," he stated.

This is why companies should adopt preventive measures to safeguard its systems from potential attacks, the SecureAge executive said.

Topics: IT Employment, CXO, Data Management, Networking, Security

About

Elly grew up on the adrenaline of crime fiction and it spurred her interest in cybercrime, privacy and the terror on the dark side of IT. At ZDNet Asia, she has made it her mission to warn readers of upcoming security threats, while also covering other tech issues.

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.