Documentary coverage of IGF-USA by the Imagining the Internet Center

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IGF-USA 2012 Workshop: Cyber Security – Channeling the Momentum at Home and Abroad

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Brief session description:

Thursday, July 26, 2012 – The US House of Representatives has passed four cybersecurity bills, and the US Senate has indicated an intent to consider cybersecurity legislation in the current session. The US Department of State is working with its global partners to develope relationships, collaborative action and norms of behavior for cyberspace. The US Department of Commerce has spearheaded a government initiative on botnets and is working with industry on botnet mitigation measures. The Department of Homeland Security is increasing its cybersecurity staffing for strategic and operational concerns. And the White House is transitioning its team on cybersecurity policy with a second cybersecurity adviser to the president. Stuxnet and Flame attacks have captured international attention. Cybersecurity remains a key theme in discussions in the United Nations, the International Telecommunications Union, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, ICANN and the annual Global Internet Governance Forum. This workshop addressed questions such as: What are businesses, countries, and the technical community doing in this heightened era of cyber security concern? What should they be doing? What are the considerations for individual users here in the U.S. and around the world? How can all these pockets of activity help protect – and not hamper the protection of – the very medium that provides for productivity, communications, efficiencies, innovation, and expression?

Details of the session:

The session was moderated by Audrey Plonk, global security and Internet policy specialist at Intel Corporation. Panelists were:

  • Tom Dukes, senior advisor, Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues, US Department of State
  • Jeff Greene, senior policy counsel, Cyber Security and Identity, Symantec
  • Kendall Burman, senior national security fellow, Center for Democracy and Technology
  • Patrick Jones, senior director of security, ICANN

Panelists from the government and private sectors gathered at IGF-USA’s cybersecurity workshop to discuss how these entities are collaborating to deal with domestic cybersecurity threats and international cybersecurity issues.

Patrick Jones speaks as a panelist at “Cyber Security: Channeling the Momentum at Home and Abroad,” during the IGF-USA conference in Washington, D.C. on July 26, 2012.

This issue is especially pertinent right now. There have been a number of high-level conferences and meetings in Washington and other locales over the summer of 2012 on this topic, and, as moderator Audrey Plonk, global security and Internet policy specialist for the Intel Corporation, puts it, “Cybersecurity is the new black.”

Jeff Greene, panelist and senior policy counsel of cybersecurity and identity at Symantec, agreed. “At this time three years ago, cybersecurity was something that was mentioned in passing,” he commented. “Now the interest is exponential.”

Symantec’s business is centered on protecting enterprises from cyberthreats. Greene, who until recently worked with the Department of Homeland Security, said that according to this year’s Symantec Internet Security Threat Report, 75 percent of the enterprises Symantec deals with were threatened with a cyber attack in 2011.

He added that while the incidence of spam decreased in 2011, there has been a shift to web-based attacks. Greene also said the government and private sector are working together to reduce such threats.

“It is remarkable how much of the threat dynamic in both sectors is the same,” Greene said. “We see criminal and other malicious activity largely the same as the government does, so this is all work through government, private and international cooperation.”

Panelist Kendall Burman had a different view on government access to private sector and citizen information in terms of cybersecurity. As a senior national security fellow for the Center for Democracy and Technology, she has spent time exploring security and surveillance from the perspective of a member of a group focused on consumer privacy.

“I think that the tricky area from a civil liberties perspective is when the government is in a position of receiving that information, making sure that that information is limited to cybersecurity threats, and what the government can then do then once it receives it,” Burman said.

Panelist Tom Dukes, senior adviser for the Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues at the US Department of State, weighed in from a government standpoint on cybersecurity issues, including the important role of the US government in pushing other countries to increase their outreach and share their perspectives on cybersecurity issues.

“Obviously what the US says, the positions we take, are highly influential and they are certainly looked at by a great many other countries,” Dukes said.

“One thing that the US has been trying to do for the last couple years in terms of addressing cyberpolicy issues in general, cybersecurity included, is to try to take sort of a leadership role in helping shape the world debate on how we think about these issues.”

Dukes said that the US has also made progress in terms of leading a global discussion on reaching a consensus about cyber security norms. Greene said that while the U.S. would like to set its own cybersecurity policies, this could cause global problems.

“If everyone has a different set of rules, (global policymaking)’s going to be pretty difficult,” Greene said.

Panelist Patrick Jones, senior director of security for ICANN, shared his view that while US policymaking is important in terms of cybersecurity, politicians should be aware of the effects that any laws they make may have globally.

“It’s helpful for policymakers, when they’re coming up with legislation, that they think of the Internet as global and consider that the decisions they make may have technical impacts that they’re not considering that impact the way people are using the Internet today – give those a thorough understanding before decisions are made about a particular legislation,” Jones said.

Jeff Greene speaks to the audience at “Cyber Security: Channeling the Momentum at Home and Abroad,” during the IGF-USA conference in Washington, D.C. on July 26, 2012.

One of the final points of discussion during the workshop was the differences between cybersecurity and information security.

In the discussion it was noted that cybersecurity, in the US view on Internet governance, deals primarily with protection from Internet threats. Information security, in the Russian and Chinese view, also includes censoring the civic sector and content from many Western media and knowledge organizations.

Dukes said there are two considerations for openness and freedom of information that convince most leaders in the world to find common ground in the fairly liberal US position on cybersecurity issues.

First is the basic human rights aspect of the argument; many countries accept that people should, whenever possible within the bounds of public safety, have certain rights of free speech, communication and assembly. Most countries agree that this should apply online.

Dukes’ second point is the economic benefit of keeping the Internet as open and free-flowing as possible. “Many evolving world countries are really desperate to find ways that they can harness the power of the Internet to increase economic opportunity, to increase GDP, to increase development and growth,” he said. “Those arguments seem to be very pragmatic, but it’s hard for countries to disagree with that.”

— Mary Kate Brogan

IGF-USA 2012 Case Vignettes: Turning Principles into Practice – Or Not: Internet Governance/ICANN; Consumer Privacy; Cyber Security; Dialogues about Lessons Learned

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Brief session description:

Thursday, July 26, 2012 – This workshop was aimed at examining the role principles are playing in framing debates, achieving consensus and influencing change – or not. Proposals for Internet principles are popping up everywhere, from national to regional and global discussions, on a wide range of issues. In 2011, IGF-USA examined a number of principles in a session titled “A Plethora of Principles.” This session follows on that one. Session planners noted that it’s not enough to simply develop a set of principles, the question is: how are principles actually implemented how are they inspiring change? Are they new voluntary codes of conduct, new regulations, new laws? Principles can become a baseline for gaining high-level agreements. They may go beyond the expectations possible through legislation or regulation, so some argue that principles should be written to be aspirational. Some argue for legislation, regulation or enforcement mechanisms to ‘hold industry accountable’ to promises made in principles designed as sets of commitments. This workshop examined three case vignettes: 1) How the principles of a white paper were incorporated into ICANN’s formation and what the status of these principles are today within ICANN’s mission and core activities; 2) how consumer privacy principles have fared in global and national settings in terms of these points ‘turning into practice’; and 3) how cybersecurity/botnet principles are faring.

Details of the session:

The moderator for this session was Shane Tews, vice president for global public policy and government relations at Verisign. Panelists included:

  • Becky Burr, chief privacy officer, Neustar Inc.: Turning White Paper Principles into actuality in ICANN
  • Menessha Mithal, associate director of the division of privacy and identity protection, Federal Trade Commission: Consumer privacy principles
  • Eric Burger, director of the Georgetown University Center for Secure Communications: Cybersecurity and botnets
  • Carl Kalapesi, co-author of the World Economic Forum’s report Rethinking Personal Data: Strengthening Trust: the World Economic Forum perspective

Carl Kalapesi speaks as a respondent at “Turning Principles into Practice- or Not” during theIGF-USA conference in Washington, D.C. on July 26, 2012.

Before an informal agreement, policy or formal regulation is adopted, passed or approved it takes its initial steps as an idea. The trick lies in bringing it from a formative state to something actionable, otherwise it may languish as a suggested goal, followed by and adhered to by no one.

During the IGF-USA panel titled “Turning Principles into Practice – or Not” participants shared successful case studies as examples of how to create actionable practices out of ethereal goals. Citing processes ranging from US efforts to counteract botnets to domain name system governance and to consumer privacy, three panelists and one respondent drew from their own experiences in discussing ways in which people might successfully bridge the gap between idea and action.

Meneesha Mithal, associate director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, weighed in on the efficacy of principles versus regulation by offering a series method to act on a problem.

“It’s not really a binary thing – I think there’s a sliding scale here in how you implement principles and regulation,” she said. She cited corporate self-regulatory codes, the work of international standard-setting bodies, multistakeholder processes, safe harbors and legislation as possible means for action.

Mithal highlighted online privacy policies as an example of the need for a sliding scale. The status quo has been to adhere to the concepts of notice and choice on the part of consumers; this has resulted in corporations’ creation of lengthy, complicated privacy policies that go unread by the consumers they are meant to inform. Recently, pressure has been placed on companies to provide more transparent, effective means of informing customers about privacy policies.

“If it had been in a legislative context, it would have been difficult for us to amend laws,” Mithal said, though she admitted that such flexible agreements are “sometimes not enough when you talk about having rights that are enforceable.”

And Mithal did note that, given the current climate surrounding the discussion of online privacy, it’s still the time for a degree of broad-based privacy legislation in America.

Eric Burger, a professor of computer science at Georgetown University, spoke on the topic of botnets, those dangerous cyber networks that secretly invade and wrest control of computers from consumers, leaving them subservient to the whims of hackers looking for a challenge, or criminals looking for the power to distribute sizable amounts of malware.

Given the sheer number of stakeholders – ISPs concerned about the drain on their profits and the liability problems the strain of illegal information shared by the botnets, individual users concerned over whether their computers have been compromised and government agencies searching for a solution – Burger said that the swift adoption of principles is the ideal response.

Among those principles are sharing responsibility for the response to botnets, admitting that it’s a global problem, reporting and sharing lessons learned from deployed countermeasures, educating users on the problem and the preservation of flexibility to ensure innovation. But Burger did admit the process of arriving at this set of principles wasn’t without its faults. “Very few of the users were involved in this,” he said, citing “heavy government and industry involvement, but very little on the user side,” creating a need to look back in a year or two to examine whether the principles had been met and whether they had been effective in responding to the swarm of botnets.

Becky Burr, chief privacy officer and deputy general counsel at Neustar, previously served as the director of the Office of International Affairs at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, where she had a hands-on role in the US recognition of ICANN (NTIA). She issued a play-by-play of the lengthy series of efforts to turn ICANN from a series of proposed responses into a legitimate governing entity, which was largely aided by a single paragraph in a framework issued by President Bill Clinton’s administration in 1997.

Written as a response to the growing need for the establishment of groundwork on Internet commerce and domain names, the paper called for a global, competitive, market-based system for registering domain names, which would encourage Internet governance to move from the bottom-up. The next day, the NTIA issued the so-called “Green Paper” which echoed many of the principles of the administration’s framework and drew extensive feedback from around the world, including negative feedback over the suggestion that the US government add up to five gTLDs during the transitional period.

After reflection on the feedback to both the white and green papers, and a series of workshops among multiple stakeholders to flesh out the principles of stability, competition, private-sector leadership, bottom-up governance and realistic representation of the affect communities, ICANN held its first public meeting Nov. 14, 1998, underwent several reforms in 2002, and ever since, in Burr’s words, “is still the best idea, or at least no one’s figured out a better idea.”

“The bottom line is to iterate, make sure you articulate your principles and try to find some built-in self-correcting model,” Burr said.

Shane Tews acts as moderator at “Turning Principles into Practice- or Not” during the IGF-USA conference in Washington, D.C. on July 26, 2012.

While Burr’s play-by-play described how a relatively independent, formal institution was formed to offer DNS governance, Carl Kalapesi, a project manager at the World Economic Forum, offered a more informal approach, relying on the informal obligations tied to agreeing with principles to enforce adherence.

“Legislative approaches by their nature take a very, very long time,” Kalapesi said. He vigorously supported the importance of principles in offering “a common vision of where we want to get to,” which leaders can sign onto in order to get the ball rolling.

He offered the example of the “Principles of Cyber Resilience,” offered to CEOs at last year’s World Economic Forum with the goal of making them more accountable for the protection of their own networks and sites while still allowing them flexibility to combat problems in a way that best suited their own work-flow and supply chains.

Central to Kalapesi’s argument in favor of principle-based solutions is their flexibility.

“Half of the uses of data didn’t exist when the data was collected – we didn’t know what they were going to do with it,” he said, alluding to the concerns over the use of private data by the likes of Google and Facebook, which accelerate and evolve at a rate with which formal legislation could never keep up.

Burr later echoed this point in theorizing that 1998′s Child Online Protection Act might soon be obsolete, but Mithal remained firm that a “government backstop” should be in place to ensure that there’s something other than the vague notion of “market forces” to respond to companies who step back from their agreements.

— Morgan Little