Cyber wrap
25 Nov 2015|

Narendra Modi and Najib Razak

This week’s wrap kicks off with the G20, where cyber issues featured prominently as leaders released a joint communiqué calling for a prohibition on commercial espionage. The document dictates that states will refrain from the ‘theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information, with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial sectors’. The text is notably similar to language used in the recent agreement between the US and China to abstain from commercial intellectual property theft online.

As summit season carried across to Asia, so did discussions around how to build cyber security and cooperation in the region.

India and Malaysia penned a new cyber security agreement after a meeting on Monday between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak. The MOU, between CERT-IN and Cyber Security Malaysia, which houses Malaysia’s national CERT, will facilitate the exchange of threat information, approaches to incident handling, best practices and policies. Modi told media gathered at the press conference that the ‘agreement to cooperate in cyber security is very important. As our lives get more networked, this is emerging as one of the most serious concerns of our age.’

Modi took his message of cyber cooperation to the East Asia Summit, where his speech to the gathering unsurprisingly focused strongly on regional security issues. Modi called for the EAS to cooperate in a more effective manner on transnational security issues including cyber security, outer space and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. India also signed a cyber MOU with regional cyber powerhouse Singapore. The extensive agreement covers five areas of cooperation including the establishment of a formal framework for professional dialogue, CERT cooperation, research cooperation on smart technologies and best practice and personnel exchanges.

The US, also keen to get in on the action, held a joint dialogue with leaders during the ASEAN Summit. At the dialogue, relations between the US and ASEAN were elevated to a ‘strategic partnership’. In a press release following the meeting, the White House outlined five key pillars of ongoing engagement with ASEAN including transnational threats—an area where cybersecurity issues featured prominently. The US has been keen to build on their work in the region, including by co-chairing an ASEAN Regional Forum Workshop last month, with an eye to raising cyber security standards in Southeast Asia and promoting consensus on international norms of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace.

At the ASEAN Defence Minister’s Meeting, the Philippines put forward a proposal to establish an Expert Working Group on cyber security at the ADMM-Plus level. Malaysian Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein told a press gathering that ‘during the meeting, we exchanged views on current regional, as well as international security and defence matters. On this note, we considered the establishment of the Expert Working Group in Plus Format, proposed by Philippines on cyber security.’ It will be interesting to see if the proposal gains any traction within the defence-orientated platform.

Taking a step away from diplo-land to wrap up this week, Slate has an interesting expose on the fall-out at Sony, one year after the high profile breach of their networks by North Korean hackers. And the Hewlett Foundation Blog also has a great piece on women in cybersecurity, featuring an interview with New America’s Anne-Marie Slaughter and Megan Garcia.