Thursday, 12 February 2015 00:00

Common Ground: U.S. and NATO Engagement with Russia in the Cyber Domain

Written by  Geoff Van Epps
Significant changes in the global strategic landscape over the past two decades include the fall of the Iron Curtain and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, accelerated globalization, increasing reliance on digital information technologies in all aspects of life, the rise of China and India, global financial crises, the political revolutions of the Arab Spring, and the emergence of violent Islamist extremism as a key feature of the geopolitical landscape. Yet at the same time, many of the key dynamics of the international arena remain unchanged from twenty years ago, including the volatility and instability of the Middle East, the lack of development in most of Africa, the ever-increasing integration of the global economy, and the preeminence of the United States as an actor in global affairs, with other states, such as the United Kingdom, Germany, and Russia also playing key roles. Among all that has changed and all that remains the same, new issues have emerged, few of which merit consideration in isolation. Rather, the complex and interconnected nature of today’s international system demands analysis that accounts for the relationships between actors and issues and considers the multiplicity of effects that their interaction unavoidably creates. Two key features of the current strategic environment—the two that are the focus of this article—are the indispensability of information technology in all aspects of modern life and the continued significance of Russia as an actor on the global stage. Driven by the growing dependence of modern society on digital technology and the vulnerability of digital systems to cyber threats, cybersecurity has emerged as a critical national security issue, spawning a growth industry that researches solutions to the technical, legal, and policy challenges of the day.