Western countries are gearing up to create cybers strategies aimed at preventing foreign countries like Russia and China from lodging internet attacks and manipulating social media to attack political systems.
According to a report in The Financial Times citing a meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of Seven, the ministers also discussed creating a framework to implement sanctions and exposure in the public arena of the countries that try to attack western democracies via the internet. John Sullivan, U.S. deputy secretary of state, told The Financial Times the idea is to try and prevent all sorts of internet crimes, whether it’s cyber thefts or strategic attacks. It is also aimed at finding and punishing the responsible parties, including foreign governments. “We had a major cyber intrusion, the so-called NotPetya intrusion last year, that the U.S. attributed to Russia. And we are looking to get allies and partners to join us in that type of attribution and then impose penalties, sanctions, and other restrictions,” Sullivan told The Financial Times. “Protection of our democratic systems is, I think, something that unites us. That’s why the G7 is still relevant.”
The Financial Times reported EU members are gearing up to protect upcoming elections that are slated for May. At the same time, Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland told the paper she’s “very concerned” about outside interference with national elections. “Our judgment is that interference is very likely and we think there have probably already been efforts by malign foreign actors to disrupt our democracy,” Freeland said in the report. The foreign minister noted that the attackers aren’t trying to meet a specific goal but to split the democracy apart.
Over the weekend the G7 announced it’s setting up a “Cyber Norm Initiative” in which the G7 countries will share best practices and said it will encourage other nations to come on board. The Financial Times noted the statement fell short of what France wanted, which was to produce a code of conduct.