Hackers of India

Cyberspace: Global commons or a national asset

 Kamlesh Bajaj 



Cyberspace is comprised of computer networks, computer resources, and all the fixed and mobile devices connected to the global Internet-A nationis cyberspace is part of the global cyberspace; it cannot be isolated to define its boundaries since cyberspace is borderless, unlike the physical world land, sea, river waters, and air - that is limited by geographical boundaries. Is it a éGlobal Commonsi like sea, air and space? Since all the networks and devices connected to them belong to people and/or organizations in specific countries, do these constitute private property, and hence a national asset? If it is a global commons, what international laws should apply to cyberspace! How can countries defend their part of the global cyberspace? If cyberattacked, do they have recourse to existing laws like Law of Armed Conflict? If it is a national asset, how can it be defended since the attacks can come from afar, with the challenge that attackers may be hard to identify. More so, because there are no barriers to cyberspace entry, since attack vectors - freely available at low cost enable non-state actors to challenge large organizations and countries by attacking them for financial frauds, terrorist or ideological reasons. Even worse scenario is a nation-state using non-state actors against its adversaries for cyber espionage, and disruption of critical infrastructures with outcomes similar to kinetic attacks.

Whether cyberspace belongs to the global commons, can be better appreciated, by examining how the governance of global commons for access and stability has evolved internationally, and what kind of rules of road have been created for them by the international community. In this talk, lill briefly review the experience of creating rules of behavior in the global commons of sea, air and space, followed by a brief discussion on cyberspace ‘i both as a commons and as a national asset. Challenges to cyberspace commons, including those emanating from its military uses will be discussed.

Since distinction between Cyber attacks and cyber warfare is thin (same attack vectors can lead to different outcomes), there is need to define under which condition is a computer network attack and éact of warp Will LOAC be applicable in case of cyberwar? Are states responsible for computer network attacks and espionage that originate in their territory?

Governments and private sector have to work together to evolve rules of behavior. Public and private partnership is critical. Traditional law enforcement is inadequate because evidence may span over global servers and networks in various jurisdictions; cyber investigations require international cooperation.