Week 7 Discussion 2 – Retaliation for the OPM Attack?

In the outside readings, you learned about the China/U.S. cyber “pact” that was signed during President Xi\’s visit to the United States in the fall of 2015, and how that was, at least to some extent, a reaction to the OPM attack.But as we also saw, that pact would not block China from conducting another attack just like the OPM attack.As the textbook describes, during the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union had an informal, presumably unwritten agreement on how to deal with spies. In short, if a Soviet citizen was found spying in the United States, they would be deported, and similarly if a U.S. citizen was found spying in the Soviet Union. They may expel a diplomat or two in protest (usually the expelled diplomats were also suspected spies), but it actually made spying a relatively risk free proposition (unless you were spying on your own government).This was actually a very sensible system. It acknowledged the obvious, which was that both countries were going to spy on the other. By limiting the retaliation to deportations, it minimized the chance of a small event escalating into a major one. And spying was still somewhat controlled, because it was difficult to do and every time a spy was caught, years of effort was lost. Unfortunately, that same model of retaliation doesn\’t control cyber espionage at all, for two reasons. One is that the spies never even have to leave their home country, so there\’s no one to deport. The other is that it\’s much, much easier to access digital data across the internet than it was to access printed documents and be able to take pictures of them with miniature cameras.It seems that we need a new “agreement” about how to retaliate against cyber espionage. 

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