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NSA chief warns cyberthreats persist despite China accord

Kenneth Corbin | Sept. 30, 2015
White House reaches an agreement with China over cybersecurity as NSA Director Michael Rogers cautions that a formal non-proliferation agreement won't deter emerging threats from non-state actors.

But security has been perhaps the most contentious issue on the table at this week's talks, and Rogers reminded members of the Senate committee that the threats are far greater than just the activities of the Chinese.

Several senators asked about his views on formalizing something like a cybersecurity non-proliferation pact with China, as the White House has been exploring. Rogers explained that he favors some kind of an agreement on what might constitute "norms" in the cyber arena, which could be multilateral in a way that a formal arms agreement could not.

Moreover, Rogers pointed out that the online world is much messier than any conventional military or diplomatic issue, so the idea of trying to bring a group like the Islamic State, or ISIS or ISIL, into a global accord on cyber issues is a non-starter.

"I certainly think we can get to the idea of norms. A formal treaty, I don't know. Because one of the challenges in my mind is how do we build a construct that ultimately works for both nation-states and non-state actors," he said.

"And one of the challenges inherent in cyber is the fact that you are dealing -- unlike the nuclear world, where you're dealing with a handful of actors all nation-states -- you're dealing with a much greater number of actors, many of whom, quite frankly, are not nation-states and have no interest in sustaining the status quo, so to speak. In fact, if you look at ISIL and other groups, their vision would be to tear the status quo down. They're not interested in stability."


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