The Cyberspace Iteration: Is a New Strategy Needed for Foreign Policy?

Over the past few years, Chinese and Russian operations in cyberspace have become more brazen and sophisticated. They were used to obtain political advantages, conduct espionage, undermine trust in social, political and economic institutions, although they violated sovereignty, but remained below the threshold for the use of force or armed attack.

The utopian vision of an open, reliable and secure global Internet network has not been achieved and is unlikely to ever be realized, although it is precisely thanks to it that many scattered countries today intensively serve their strategic, economic, political and foreign policy interests.

Countries around the world, including China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, are trying to control the Internet by localizing data, blocking and moderating content, and launching political influence campaigns, making it less free, more fragmented, and less secure today, and some parts of the web are dark markets for crime, theft and extortion.

The number of state-sponsored cyberattacks for the period 2005-2021

The special services of these states are conducting large-scale cyber campaigns, and the number of subversive attacks is increasing. Government-sponsored hackers use social media platforms to spread disinformation, incite various forms of political participation that can influence elections, fuel brutal violence, and promote toxic forms of civil division.

For now, the Internet remains the backbone of critical civil infrastructure around the world and the main artery of global digital commerce. It has overcome barriers to information sharing, supports grassroots organizations and marginalized communities, and can still act as a vehicle for dissent under repressive government regimes.

As the Internet of Things (IoT) expands in the coming years and the next iteration of the network connects tens of billions of devices, digitally linking every aspect of daily life, a different strategy is needed for the new foreign cyberspace policy.

Therefore, experts propose three principles of foreign policy that should guide adaptation to today’s more complex, colorful and dangerous cyber sphere:

  1. Consolidation of a coalition of allies around the vision of the Internet, which should be a reliable, secure international communication platform.
  2. Balancing more targeted diplomatic and economic pressure on adversaries, as well as more disruptive cyber operations, with clear statements of self-restraint on specific types of targets agreed upon between allies.
  3. Alignment and linkage of digital competition policy with the broader national security strategy.

Based on the received data, the experts came to the conclusion that:

  1. Cybercrime poses a threat to national security, so ransomware attacks on hospitals, schools, businesses, and local governments should be treated as such.
  2. Data is a source of geopolitical power and competition and is considered central to economic and national security.
  3. Artificial intelligence and other new technologies will increase strategic instability.
  4. Charges and sanctions have proven ineffective in stopping state-sponsored hackers.
  5. Increasing digitalization increases vulnerability, given that almost every aspect of business and government is subject to failure, theft or manipulation.
  6. Cyber ​​and information operations can no longer be considered as two separate spheres.

Pavlo Kryvenko

Head of AI and Cyber Security Section

He has been working as a Head of the Information and Cyber Security Section, Coordinator of the Artificial Intelligence Platform at the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies (Kyiv, Ukraine). Pavlo is the Founder of GODDL company.

He has worked as a member of the delegation of the Communication Administration of Ukraine at the World Radiocommunication Conference (Geneva, Switzerland), as a Cyber Security Consultant at the Bar Association Defendo Capital (Kyiv, Ukraine).

Pavlo has collaborated with the National Communications and Informatization Regulatory Commission and the Ukrainian State Radio Frequency Center for International Frequency Coordination.

He studied at the Institute of International Relations of the Kyiv International University (Ukraine), the Joint Frequency Management Center of the US European Command, the LS telcom AG Training Center (Grafenwöhr, Germany), the UN International Peacekeeping and Security Center (Kyiv, Ukraine).

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July 2022
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