The Wall Street Journal’s tech blog sees the new anti-hacking mutual defense treaty between Russia and China as a headache for United States intelligence analysts. Not only will the two notoriously aggressive cyber war powers be able to concentrate their hacking fire on other targets while pooling defensive resources, but the Internet balance of power continues to shift away from the U.S., just as critics of the Obama administration’s decision to hand over Internet domain control to a nebulous international body predicted.
“Russia and China signed a cyber-security deal on Friday, which experts say could firm up Russia’s ties with the east and may become a foundation for binding cyber security ties in the future,” writes the WSJ.
The two super-powers “agree to not conduct cyber-attacks against each other, as well as jointly counteract technology that may ‘destabilize the internal political and socio-economic atmosphere,’ ‘disturb public order’ or ‘interfere with the internal affairs of the state,'” according to the text of the agreement, which Russia has posted online.
The agreement also promises cooperation between Russian and Chinese law enforcement and cyber-security experts.
As WSJ notes, the Russians have been adopting a more defensive, and openly anti-Western, cyber war posture, bringing overseas infrastructure back into Mother Russia and loudly announcing plans to resist a large-scale Western attack on Russian networks, in the event Western powers lose their cool over little “misunderstandings” like Russia’s military adventure in Ukraine. One gets the impression the Russians might have more adventures in mind, and they want the Western world to know that sanctions against their Internet resources will not be an option.
Pooling resources to defeat the hacker threat is an admirable idea on the surface. As a cyber security consultant approvingly remarked to the WSJ, “The level of cooperation between Russia and China will set a precedent for two global cyber security powers.”
The problem is that an awful lot of the most aggressive and organized hacking activity emanates from Russia and China. It’s not entirely comforting to see the two biggest gangs on the mean streets of the Internet shake hands and agree not to muscle in on each other’s turf.