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December 27, 2010
Addressing U.S. National Interests in Cyberspace Security
"The United States’ overriding national interest in cyberspace is to preserve and extend the Internet as a tool for economic efficiency at home and as a facilitator for economic exchange internationally. The current level of criminal activity, espionage, and preparation of the battlefield in cyberspace threatens to stall if not wipe out the economic gains produced by the networking of systems over the past two decades. Moreover, an overreaction to these threats could be equally devastating. In seeking to improve security in cyberspace, the United States must work to preserve the core attributes of the network that make it so valuable for economic exchange: innovation, openness, and limited governance. These attributes make the network flexible, so that new uses can be developed rapidly, and scalable, so that millions of new users and devices can be connected each year, expanding the free flow of ideas and the reach of international commerce. Addressing problems of security in cyberspace at the expense of these attributes would not serve U.S. national interests," writes Robert K. Knake in a Council on Foreign Relations special report entitled "Internet Governance in an Age of Cyber Insecurity."
To actively combat cyber crime, industrial espionage, and cyber warfare threats "while it works to protect U.S. national interests in the preservation and extension of the Internet as a platform for increased efficiency and economic exchange," Knake suggests the federal government should be guided by the following three principles:
- The United States should take a networked and distributed approach to a networked and distributed problem.
- The United States should move toward holding states accountable
- "The United States should lead by example."
About leading by example, Knake writes:
[The federal government] should take steps to clean up its national network, work to stop its systems from being used in international cyberattacks, prioritize criminal investigation of cyberattacks with foreign victims, and make clear that the primary goal of its military efforts in cyberspace is to defend the United States and preserve international connectivity.
For a brief review of the CFR special report which includes a link to download a free copy, see Internet Governance in an Age of Cyber Insecurity. [JH]