As mentioned previously, the G8 justice and interior ministers (including Sec. Chertoff in the latter category) met last week in Moscow. The transcript of their wrap-up press conference is now available online, and one issue stands out amid the litany of other items on the agenda. Russian Minister of the Interior Rashid Nurgaliyev noted the following:
We discussed the necessity of improving effective countermeasures that will prevent IT terrorism and terrorist acts in this sphere of high technologies. For that it is necessary to devise a set of measures to prevent such possible criminal acts, including in the sphere of telecommunication. That includes work against the selling of private data, counterfeit information and application of viruses and other harmful computer programs. We will instruct our experts to generate unified approaches to fighting cyber criminality, and we will need an international legal base for this particular work, and we will apply all of that to prevent terrorists from using computer and Internet sites for hiring new terrorists and the recruitment of other illegal actors.
There’s not a lot of specificity in these remarks, but they’re interesting to the extent that they suggest a connection between the “protection” side of cybersecurity (i.e. defeating hackers and viruses) and the role of the Internet as a means for communication, recruitment, and training.
Are these two things connected, and are there common tools that can be used to combat both threats? Or is this simply a case of two things that seem like they should be related, but are actually quite distinct from one another? There likely are some commonalities in terms of tracing and monitoring illicit activities on the Internet, and there is perhaps increasing convergence between the people involved with cybercrime and online jihadi activities. But there are differences. Preventing cybercrime is largely a matter of playing defense, whereas learning about terror-related activities online requires proactive efforts.
In any case, an interesting idea…and one worthy of further discussion. What do you think?