‘International framework needed to deal with cross-border hacking activities’

‘International framework needed to deal with cross-border hacking activities’
An independent panel should be set up to investigate any cross-border hacking activities, like the Sony case, since unilateral actions may only worsen the situation, says Victor Gao, Director of the China National Association of International Studies.

RT:An official from the Chinese Foreign Ministry has said there's not enough evidence North Korea's behind this hack. If that is the case, why would the US be targeting Pyongyang?

Writer for China Outlook Brendan O’Reilly on the Sony hacking issue: “In an incident like this you have to think about who benefits from such an attack. A lot of cyber-security experts are saying that this attack did not have the hallmarks of a state-sanctioned attack.”

Victor Gao: First of all, anyone who did the hacking of the Sony company has violated many rules and so needs to be punished. On the other hand, for this very serious hacking everyone needs to calm down because we need to gather enough solid evidence. And for any country to come out, to claim responsibility by another country without demonstrating to the world enough convincing evidence, to start with, and even threaten to take military action or otherwise against their country, is either premature or moving maybe a step ahead of the game. Therefore, I think China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman basically said that we need to have more evidence and proof before anyone can arrive at a final decision. This actually shows a sense of responsibility. In dealing with major hacker activities like this I think what they say will be probably making the situation even worse. We need to have hard solid evidence before any escalation can happen.

Principal security researcher at CloudFare Marc Rogers on US accusations against North Korea: “I don’t think we could be very sure at all, it’s not something that we could rule out. But if you look at the evidence being presented so far, most of it is speculative and hinges on linking the malware that was found in Sony with malware that was used in other attacks.”

RT:North Korea proposed a joint investigation into the Sony hack. Why is Washington not interested do you think?

VG: If you look at the whole situation right now, as a matter of fact, in the world today, there is no good overarching international framework to deal with cross-border hacking activities like this. It is time to appeal to the international community and all the stakeholders to come up with such frameworks so that if any hacking activity, like the Sony hacking, happens there will be a process, there will be a framework, there will be a more or less independent panel to do the investigation and eventually come up with a report. Based on the report more action can be taken. At this particular moment because of the lack of that international coherent framework it is difficult to resolve multilateral measures, to resolve situation like this. But at a very critical moment like this any unilateral action probably will escalate the situation and may be even out of control, eventually the end result can be even worse than whatever situation we are faced with today.

AFP Photo / Str

RT:What impact will the US pressure on North Korea have on politics in the region - on China and South Korea, for example?

VG: It depends on what exactly the US will do about this incident. I listened very carefully to what President Obama had to say and he wants to decide the timing and the kind of actions the US want to take against North Korea without, for example, demonstrating to the satisfaction of the rest of the world, as to why the US think they have a case against North Korea. Therefore, I think, first of all, we urge the US to calm down and to take a rational approach to this, and probably to do more foreign investigation or at least to make investigation results known to the other stakeholders, especially countries in the north-eastern part of Asia. After all there is a six-party framework existing, and at least the US needs to share that information within the six-party framework before any real action should be taken by the US against North Korea.

RT:Barack Obama has vowed retaliation over the Sony attack. Does this recent internet outage in North Korea have anything to do with Washington?

Writer for China Outlook Brendan O’Reilly on possible US measures against North Korea: “There has been a lot of the US pressure on North Korea for several decades now, so I’m not sure too much of anything will change. We need to look at the fluid dynamic of the region, what has changed in the region. One important development this last year is Russian talks with North Korea to build a pipeline through North Korea down to South Korea, and potentially US pressure could have some effect on this development.”

VG: The blackouts of the Internet services in North Korea is a mystery, and it is a cause of concern mainly because while the cyber-attack on Sony was bad enough, any further escalation of a cyber-attack, especially against a country as a whole, will probably eventually be even worse. And if this sets a precedent, then a cyber-warfare will probably be given more credibility going forward, and different parties may resort to cyber-attacks probably even in anticipation that major stakeholders, major countries, like the US, will further escalate the situation. And eventually, ironically, the Internet globally is one system. If you break down one part of that …other parts may fall victims too. It may actually further escalate the situation and eventually the global integrity of the Internet services may be even under a greater threat than before.

RT:Pyongyang has already been under US sanctions for decades. What else could Washington do to punish North Korea?

VG: I would say people take a great interest in the recent rapprochement between the US and Cuba. I think if the US can demonstrate the same level of maturity and farsightedness, maybe there will be a better way to resolve the dispute between the US and DPRK. We may not have reached this point yet, but any further escalation of tension in north eastern part of Asia will not be in the fundamental interest of any stakeholder involved in that part of the world. We, the people in that part of the world, will need greater peace and stability so that we can focus on economic development. If tensions break out again we may really miss this rare opportunity and great instability may break out in that part of the world. Then there may even be a domino effect gradually and not only on the Korean peninsula but even spreading beyond that region. For the US, to take any action which may result in further escalation and deterioration of tension in that part of the world, it is time to call on the US to think twice before they act hastily.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.