The United States on Saturday called for an international dialogue on cyber attacks and a set of rules to keep conflicts caused by computer hacking under control.
“We take the cyber threat very seriously,” US Defence Secretary Robert Gates told an Asian security conference in Singapore.
However, the process of understanding cyber attacks in the context of defence policy was still at the beginning, he said.
“What does constitute an offensive act by a government? What would constitute an act of war by cyber that would require some kind of response?” Gates asked.
He said that all countries should see cyber attacks as a potential problem for them, calling for “a more open dialogue among countries about cyber.” “I think we could avoid some serious international tensions in the future if we could establish some rules of the road as early as possible that let people know what kinds of acts are acceptable, what kinds of acts are not, and what kinds of acts may, in fact, be an act of war,” Gates said.
The US defence secretary said his country was under cyber attack “all the time.” “We see it from a variety of sources, not just one or another country,” said Gates.
He stopped short of naming any source of hacker attacks on the US, avoiding a possible conflict with his Chinese counterpart Liang Guanglie, who also attended the Singapore Shangri-La Dialogue.
Computer hackers from China have been repeatedly blamed for cyber attacks on US companies and email accounts, but Beijing denied any involvement.
The Singapore conference, organized by the London-based Institute for Strategic Studies, set to end on Sunday, brings together defence chiefs and security policymakers from 27 nations.