Both the West and China have highlighted the importance of the Web - in different ways. Here we look at how it is becoming centre stage in cyber attacks between the two and the efforts both sides are making to beef up their defences.
"New Security Challenges" Lecture 6 (2 February 2010)
Cyber attacks: hype or an increasing headache for open
In the past, identify theft or financial crime caused by hacking into computer systems and the manipulation of supposedly confidential data seemed mostly confined to criminal gangs and to be mostly an issue of industrial and commercial security. The other popular image was that of the teenager at home, attempting to hack into the Pentagon's air defence system just to have some fun.
But there is increasing evidence that cyber attacks are also being carried out by states to test vulnerabilities in the systems of other countries or to steal secrets. Indeed the examples of Estonia and Georgia in recent times show how effective orchestrated cyber attacks can be in paralysing - if only for a short period - the vital administrative systems of government and society.
So how serious is the threat of cyber attack today? What can we do to prevent it and who is winning in the constant battle between the attackers and the defenders? What kind of international legal frameworks and partnerships between the public and private sectors do we need to deter cyber attacks.