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Rustat Report on Cyber Security

On 11 February 2011,  with a follow up on 29 September 2011, the Rustat Conferences hosted discussions of cybersecurity.

The revolution brought about by computer technology and the internet has delivered huge benefits and opportunities to society, but it also poses a threat as it may expose us - government, organisations and individuals - to digital attack. How real is this and how clear and present this danger? This meeting will set out to provide an informed judgement on the extent and nature of this threat to governments, commerce, national infrastructure and individuals.

We are now almost entirely dependent on internet technology and computer systems to manage the range of services and sectors in the modern world. From banking, stock markets, shipping and transport to healthcare, energy infrastructure, air-traffic-control and the military, a secure cyberspace - the so-called "fifth domain" following land, sea, space and air - is essential to the smooth functioning of society.

There is an urgent need to discuss the nature of the threat of cyber-war, cyber-attack and cyber crime, and how to manage it. Could, for instance, a country or company's infrastructure be destroyed as decisively by a cyber-attack as by an armed invasion by air and land? With the "Anonymous" hacktivist army waging the WikiLeaks cyberwar "Operation Payback" against the likes of Amazon, PayPal and Mastercard; Iran conceding the Stuxnet worm attacks on its nuclear infrastructure; and Google seeking the assistance of the US intelligence community following cases of alleged state-sponsored cyber-attacks and espionage oriented hacking, increasingly, some say, yes. If so, how are organisations and countries to manage this risk, defend themselves, and identify those responsible?

In addressing these concerns, another question arises: who actually owns or controls cyberspace? A scramble for cyberspace is underway between intelligence, military and civilian powers - Russia and China are effectively nationalising their online space with a huge walls and control systems, whereas elsewhere, against the background of the establishment of myriad laws and regulations, the legal mapping is chaotic and unharmonious.

A Rustat Conference was held in February and then the organisation cohosted the Cybersecurity Forum 2011 in central London in september to follow up on the many issues raised. The forum was organised by an industry-government-academic grouping working. A report on the Conference can be downloaded here.