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Obama to Russia, China: Let's not hack each other because the US will win

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Cyber security has become a very pressing concern over the past couple of decades, with state-sponsored attacks and malicious agents causing all kinds of trouble around the world. But president Barack Obama envisions a world where governments put aside their differences, and their zero-day stockpiles, and stop going after each other.

As reported by The Register, in a speech given in China, after a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin, Obama explained his desire for digital peace between major world powers. Citing the increased friction between the US, Russia and China on this front, Obama called for a de-escalation of tensions.

The US president also mentioned the stock-piling of “cyber weapons” in the form of zero-day exploits and digital attack capabilities, a cycle reminiscent of the Cold War arms race whose effects are still being felt today. President Obama explained:

But our goal is not, in the cyber arena, to suddenly duplicate a cycle of escalation that we saw when it comes to other arms races in the past. What we cannot do is have a situation in which this becomes the wild, wild west where countries that have significant cyber capacity start engaging in competition, unhealthy competition or conflict, through these means, when wisely we put in place some norms when it comes to using other weapons.

Then again Obama wasn’t shy to tout his own country’s capabilities in this area, claiming that the US is the biggest and baddest when it comes to cyber warfare. He said “frankly we have more capacity than any other country, both offensively and defensively”.

The president is obviously referring to his country’s intelligence agencies and branches of the military, which have been stockpiling and using zero-day exploits for a good long while now. Though a recent report, from a highly credible security researcher who was part of the government’s efforts in this field, has suggested the US government has fewer zero-day exploits stockpiled than anyone believes.

In either case, it’s doubtful that a speech, or even a high-level agreement between the main players like China, Russia, Germany, the UK and the US would have much of an impact on the way things are going. At least not in the short term.

Source: The Register

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