A Seminar on “Security in Cyber Space: Implications and Challenges” was organized by the Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS) at Islamabad Marriot Hotel on Tuesday September 30, 2014.
Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS) took an initiative to organize a conference in order to discuss cyber security as an aspect of national security policy, in order to contribute towards enhancing the understanding about the facets and levels of the threats emanating from cyber space.
Aim of this conference was to bring together security and foreign policy experts, scholars, policy makers and members from legal and technical community to deliberate upon the theoretical, technical and operational dynamics of security in the cyber domain. The conference looked at the cyber issues and their impact on defense postures in South Asia and examined suggestions pertaining to potential strategy for defining a national cyber space policy for Pakistan.
The seminar highlighted that the advent of information age has profoundly impacted the thinking of states as well as sub – state groups in regards to warfare and security. While the state remains the principal political entity on the world stage, the diffusion of technologies and relevant knowledge has transcended borders and boundaries at a rapid speed. This has allowed space for both states and sub-state entities for building local capacities and the conduct of security in ways that complicate the geo-strategic and geo-political outlook. This trend is developing despite certain regulatory mechanisms put in place by various states.
Conference examined the extent to which the traditional conceptual framework of statecrafts and global political system are adequate in dealing with complex situation owing to the constant improvements in cyber domain, as the perpetrators of cyber attacks may not be easily identifiable. Questions discussed during the deliberations in different sessions were: what would define a cyber attack that should generate state’s response as states cannot afford to go to war in every breach of its cyber security. Should states treat cyber security as a matter of operational strategy or a strategic doctrine? Or that could cyber domain be a new arena for confidence building measures (CBMs) in diplomacy?
Experts were of the view that legislation and a well-defined policy on cyber security was needed to decide on the steps the government and other stakeholders in the country were required to take for defending against and responding to cyber attacks. Experts regretted that emergency mechanisms for dealing with internet attacks were not in place. Moreover experts also argued that cyber warfare have become an attractive option for the attacker because it used latest innovation, allowed anonymity, provided disproportionate power to otherwise weaker actors, low entry cost, cheaper in execution, easy delivery, proliferation of tools and avoided use of combat troops. Discussion also ensued regarding International laws applicable to cyber attacks.
Speakers highlighted that all regions of the world, except for South Asia, were developing mechanisms for dealing with challenge in the cyber space and India was not interested in developing a regional arrangement on cyber security with Pakistan. Speakers opined that Pakistan would have to first put its own house in order by enacting domestic legislation and putting in place required mechanisms before looking to others for a regional mechanism. Experts believed that if Indian inflexibility continued, Pakistan should talk to other countries in the region for developing a regional mechanism to deal with such issues.
Conference was attended by members of academia, think tanks, policy making establishments, media, technical experts and students. The proceedings of each session were followed by an interactive session in which the participants raised a number of questions regarding the issues covered in the respective session. The seminar was able to create greater public awareness and many participants acknowledged its educative and informative role and appreciated the initiative taken by CISS in organizing the seminar on an important issue.