U.S.-China Cyber-security Agreement Lacks Teeth, Has Holes

By Robert Lemos  |  Posted 2015-09-30 Print this article Print
U.S.-China cyber-security agreement

Yet some current sanction processes could point the way. Sanctions could resemble those used by the U.S. Department of Treasury to penalize companies that do business with terrorists or that are fronts for terrorist organizations. A handful of organizations and companies are added to the Specially Designated National List that freezes their assets and blocks U.S. citizens from doing business with them, Healey said.

The same process could work against companies that support hacking or use hacking as a way to get information on a rival, he said.

"This would be the same sanctions authority that we have used for everything else," he said. "You have to be able to justify the penalty in court an international court. It is a relatively high bar."

Without sanctions, China will likely continue to infiltrate corporate systems and government networks because there is just no downside for the nation. For any single nation or company, stealing intellectual property could put them on the fast track to catch up with rival corporations. China has everything to gain and nothing to lose, so far, Healey said.

"There has never been any cost to the Chinese for espionage," Healey said. "They have never even had to care."

And with every compromise, the recent agreement becomes less meaningful, and the Internet continues to remain a lawless place, he said. The United States should not rest with a simple agreement, said Healey.

"There is a danger in the sense that you think you have done something," he said. "Because you have had no wind in your sails for years, the first breeze seems like something."


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