He noted that, in general, the United States needed to fight back against countries that have conducted cyber espionage on U.S. companies and defense contractors, as many experts have suggested China and Russia have done. (Technology Review described the interlocking landscape of cybercrime, espionage, and war in this report last year.)
One underlying reason for the escalation of cyberwar is that it’s hard to identify emerging threats and put them in perspective. An interdisciplinary MIT effort is building a cyber data dashboard that stitches information on cybersecurity and crime together with political, economic, and demographic data, to allow users to find patterns and correlations.
Someone using the dashboard could find, for example, the number of computer viruses detected as a function of the number of a nation’s Internet users, or see how cybercrime relates to GDP across different nations. The dashboard can be used publicly and does not yet require a password for access.
That data effort is echoed by a recent call from Harvard Law School professors Jonathan Zittrain and John Palfrey for more research to produce better Internet data—such as on activities within social networks relating to cybercrime.
At last week’s MIT workshop, David Clark, an MIT computer scientist who was the Internet’s chief protocol architect in the 1980s, said that the Internet will need to be engineered to both resist attack and to make it difficult for individual regimes to shape it to their liking.
“Did we design it to be resilient to attack and control? The answer is no,” Clark said. “We thought about it being resilient to failure, and that’s different. We need now to think about a discipline of designs relevant to control.”
Clark added: “The future is not centered on performance, but centered on control and power. We are not trained, as computer scientists, to evaluate things from that perspective.”