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Nations, companies should prepare for cyberwar, experts say

Grant Gross | Sept. 21, 2010
Most governments don't have policies in place to deal with large-scale attacks, say cybersecurity experts

One audience member asked whether governments should take more steps to track online behavior. In the U.S., there are limits on the data the government can keep, and a more formal tracking effort would take some major changes in law, Winter said.

Another audience member asked if new cybersecurity regulations are necessary, with Internet service providers held partly responsible for the traffic that comes over their networks. Tikk suggested it was time for the U.S. to reexamine laws such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that exempted ISPs from lawsuits involving traffic carried on their networks. ISPs could serve as a first line of defense from cyberattacks if they were allowed to filter content, although that idea would meet stiff resistance, she said.

Winter pointed to an effort in Australia, where ISPs will begin to voluntarily filter Web content by late this year, after a series of government filtering proposals stalled. The Australian code of practice, developed by the Internet Industry Association there, would allow ISPs to cut off access to Web users who refuse to take action to secure their computers, he said.

It will be "interesting" to see how effective the filtering system is against cyberattacks, Winter said.

The U.S. may also need to reexamine its largely hands-off regulatory approach to the Internet, in the name of cybersafety, Winter added. "The Internet sort of grew up here as the Wild West," he said. "Anybody mentions the R word, regulation associated with the Internet here, and the noise levels become positively deafening. We may just have to accept some regulation if we want to have an Internet that is stable, reliable and resilient."

 

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