At a time when governments have the ability to launch a worm such as Stuxnet and potentially target nuclear plants and utility control systems, we need people in U.S. embassies to address these imminent threats.
I would suggest that the State Department appoint high-level officials – let’s call them cyber security attachés or associate ambassadors – to work in countries with a large diplomatic presence to boost the visibility of discussions around what’s being targeted for cyber attack and how we can best work with our allies to protect ourselves.
It would allow cross-cultural discussions on cyber security at the diplomatic roundtable, raising situational awareness and offering ways to align our joint resources. These officials could also provide a focal point for discussions on international policy and possible treaties to address collaboration and information sharing.
The recent global roundup of hackers targeting financial systems shows how international law enforcement agencies can work together to fight cyber crime. However, it appears the malware used in the attacks is still thriving.
We are at critical juncture in our race to defend cyber space. Now is the time to establish a presence in the diplomatic community where cyber security has a seat at the table.