Russia and the United States are co-sponsoring a resolution to pre-empt cyberattacks that an influential international body is expected to adopt this week, according to a Belgium parliamentary member who introduced the decree. The proposal calls for member nations to exchange information about the way they intend to deploy cyber technology during military conflicts.
Russian support is notable because the former Soviet republic was blamed in 2007 for knocking out Internet access in neighboring Estonia. Both nations belong to the 56-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. OSCE parliamentarians are gathering this week in Serbia to select provisions for inclusion in the Belgrade Declaration, an annual statement that guides OSCE decisions. The organization, which represents North America, Europe and Central Asia, provides a venue for negotiations on conflict prevention and post-war rehabilitation.
"One advantage of OSCE is that we have Russia as a state," Belgian Parliamentarian Francois Xavier de Donnea told Nextgov in an interview Tuesday. "It is a place where the American and European countries can dialogue with the former Soviet Union and risks can be reduced."
Alexander Kozlovsky, deputy chairman of the Russian State Duma International Affairs Committee, signed the proposed provision, according to de Donnea.
"I think such a resolution could get unanimous support," de Donnea said.
Last month, defense ministers at NATO, which does not include Russia, approved a new policy on cyber defense to help allies protect their communications systems and deter cyberattacks.
Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III said shortly after passage, "NATO is unanimous in acknowledging the need to elevate its treatment of network security," adding that the new strategic concept the alliance adopted last November "names cybersecurity as a leading priority for NATO in the 21st century."
But De Donnea said the ideal forum for worldwide discussion of cybersecurity threats is the United Nations.
"If the OSCE succeeds in conducting dialogues between states on norms in cybersecurity. . . it would be a major step toward a more global approach, which would be promoted by the United Nations," he said. The U.N. and OSCE do not share a budget but coordinate closely on field operations.
Last week, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said she believes the OSCE can play a meaningful role in forming international measures for state behavior in cyberspace, but she was not specifically addressing the resolution at the time, aides said Tuesday.
"We welcome consideration of the establishment of a cybersecurity unit within the OSCE secretariat with existing resources and look forward to discussing this in more detail with other OSCE participating states and partners," she said during remarks at a joint meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council and OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation in Vienna.
Separately, the White House in May distributed a voluntary international strategy for cybersecurity that, like the OSCE proposal, urges cooperation in developing standards for acceptable conduct on the Internet.