The U.S. and Russia have signed a landmark agreement to reduce the risk of cyber conflict through real-time communications about incidents of national security concern, reports The Washington Post.
The pact – the first of its kind – was announced in a statement issued by both countries Monday at the Group of Eight summit in Northern Ireland, and it was cast as part of a broader, bilateral effort to improve cooperation on counterterrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
The pact’s components build on the U.S.-Soviet experience in avoiding nuclear conflict during the Cold War, including the U.S. Nuclear Risk Reduction Center, a round-the-clock center built in 1987 so that Moscow and Washington could alert each other of missile tests that could be mistaken as acts of aggression.
Under the new pact, the countries will use the center to warn each other of cyber-exercises that could be misperceived as attacks and as a channel to ask about cyber incidents that raise national security concerns and appear to be emanating from the other’s territory.
The agreement also calls for a “hotline,” or secure phone line, so that the U.S. cyber security coordinator and his or her Russian counterpart can speak directly in the event of a crisis.
A formal channel is also being established, through which the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, run by the Department of Homeland Security, can exchange technical information with its Russian counterpart. Any shared data would be stripped of personally identifying information.
The countries will also set up a cyber working group “within the next month” to provide a forum to discuss emerging threats and propose concrete measures for addressing them and furthering cyber security cooperation.