Peculiarities of cyberwarfare and cyberdiplomacy were discussed at the PIR Center expert seminar

March 9, 2023

MOSCOW. MARCH 9. PIR PRESS. «Given that the confrontation is now taking place on the Internet – and, in general, in the information and communication environment – this is not something new, and the problem has been discussed as long as this environment is created and evolves. However, due to the limited attention to it, mythologized ideas about what cyber warfare is often prevail», Oleg Shakirov, PIR Center consultant, expert of the Russian International Affairs Council.

On March 1, 2023, PIR Center held an informal expert seminar (Midweek Brainstorming Session) on the topic «Cyberwarfare and Cyberdiplomacy: Features of Confrontation in the Digital Age». During the event, Oleg Shakirov, consultant of the PIR Center, expert of the Russian International Affairs Council, delivered a keynote speech.

During his speech, Oleg Shakirov drew attention to the key aspects of digital security and cyber warfare: the phenomenon of international «hativism»; the role of IT business in stabilizing and protecting the national digital sector; transforming the approaches of leading states to responding to the digital challenge.

In addition, the expert spoke in detail about how the transformation of cyberspace affected the diplomatic process and interstate interaction. «Diplomacy has slowed down. Although [it] continues at the global level, many countries – especially Western ones – are trying to actively build up efforts among like-minded people and look for – maybe not always universally accepted, but agreed means – ways to combat the cyber threat», the expert noted.

The topic of the Midweek Brainstorming Session aroused great interest among the audience. As a result of Oleg Shakirov’s speech, a constructive and fruitful discussion took place on the stated issues. Leading Russian experts, theorists and practitioners in the field of global security, young scientists and students of Russia and foreign countries took part in the discussions.

In the format of a free exchange of views, issues related to ensuring digital security at various levels, the degree of readiness of states for large-scale strikes in cyberspace, as well as the possibility of developing a «code of conduct» for hackers and cyber units were discussed.

For example, Vadim Kozyulin, head of the Center for Global Studies and International Organizations at the Institute of Contemporary International Problems of the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, suggested further discussing the Digital Emblem Initiative put forward by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC): «A Digital Emblem is a kind of sign on the Web that could be used to mark some civilian structures, like hospitals and social services. That is, [it is assumed that] hackers, cyber fighters, having seen such an emblem on the Web, will supposedly stop and realize that entry is prohibited there».

A detailed commentary on the issues brought up for discussion was also made by Associate Professor of the Information Security Department of the Faculty of Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence and Control Systems of the Moscow State Technical University, member of the PIR Center Advisory Board, Alexander Fedorov.

In his speech, the expert touched upon a number of aspects of international cooperation – for example, the level of efforts of European countries in terms of increasing mutual trust in cyberspace: «The confidence-building measures adopted in the OSCE… it was a very serious battle, which we fought with great difficulty – not only won, but, in any case, did not lose. And Russia made very serious compromises in order to be able to prevent the establishment of control over its activities from the position of the OSCE. In the version in which confidence building measures were adopted in the OSCE, they provided for «…» a multi-level system for monitoring the implementation of these supposedly non-binding and voluntary confidence building measures».

The full recording of the event is available via the link.

For participation in the PIR Center Midweek Brainstorming Sessions, please contact the Education Program team at edu@pircenter.org.

E3/TSU – 03/23