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US And Britain Call For Cyber Threat Cooperation

June 5, 2011

The United States and Britain on Saturday called for increased cooperation from international agencies and governing bodies against threats to cyber security after more attacks were made on government and corporate systems.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and British Defense Secretary Liam Fox emphasized that the problem needs urgent attention during an Asia-Pacific security forum in Singapore.

Liang Guanglie of China, also in attendance at the forum, denies being the source of attacks on US security systems, and Gates and Fox deliberately avoided singling out Beijing for the attacks.

Liang will address the conference on Sunday.

“We take the cyber threat very seriously and we see it from a variety of sources, not just one or another country,” said Gates.

Fox said London will host an international conference on the “war of the invisible enemy” later this year.

“The effect on the economies of this region of a well-planned and well-resourced cyber attack on transnational commercial networks and institutions would be catastrophic, and would impact on us all,” he said. “Cyber attacks are already happening in large numbers and on a regular basis … which is why we want to convene a proper international conference to see how we can deal with it.”

Fox said the London conference will include discussions on a potential legal plan.

Just days before the Singapore meeting, Google Inc said a cyber spying campaign originating in China targeted Gmail accounts of senior US officials, military personnel, journalists and political activists. China denied the claims, saying it was “unacceptable” to blame it for the incidents.

“Serious international tensions” could be avoided if there are rules put in place “that let people know what kinds of acts are acceptable, what kinds of acts are not, and what kinds of acts may in fact be an act of war,” said Gates. “There is no question that our defense systems are under attack all the time, fairly routinely in fact, and we’ve taken a number of steps to try and protect ourselves,” he added.

Dennis Muilenburg, chief executive of Boeing Defense, Space and Security, told AFP that the US aerospace giant is also under “continuous” cyber attacks, but had no breach of its databases. The admission comes as Japanese electronics giant Sony deals with continued attacks on its networks.

“I think all countries should see the cyber threat as a potential problem for them,” said Gates. “I think that one of the things that would be beneficial would be for there to be a more open dialogue among countries about cyber (threats) and establishing some rules of the road.”

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