US, Russia to install “cyber-hotline” to prevent accidental cyberwar

The US and Russia are patching a direct line between their mutual cyber-security czars.

As leaked details of ongoing network surveillance and espionage programs by the National Security Agency (NSA) continue to stir up international concern about how deep US intelligence is reaching into IT operations worldwide, Russia and the US have taken steps to cooperate on cybersecurity—or at least prevent an accidental cyberwar.

During talks at the G-8 Summit in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, the US and Russia agreed to cooperate more fully on a number of security measures. In addition to agreeing to continue to work together in preventing nuclear proliferation, the two governments are taking steps to improve communications about the proliferation of information weaponry. “We recognize that threats to or in the use of ICT (information and computer technologies) include political, military, and criminal threats, as well as threats of a terrorist nature, and are some of the most serious national and international security challenges we face in the 21st century,” the governments said in a joint statement issued by Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin today.

Hotline to the Kremlin

In response to those threats, officials said that the US and Russian governments were taking steps “to increase transparency and reduce the possibility that a misunderstood cyber incident could create instability or a crisis in our bilateral relationship,” a White House spokesperson wrote in a “fact sheet” on the agreements published today. Those steps include direct communications between the Department of Homeland Security’s US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) and the Russian equivalent organization.

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