Cybernetic Attacks against SCO: the Best Method of Defense is Consolidation
02.06.2009 16:49
Dmitry Oshanin

In the Russian International Information Agency “RIA Novosti” a roundtable took place “SCO: climate of confidence and information security”. Representatives of the SCO structures, well-known experts, and heads of mass media from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization member states took part in it. The forum was held on the threshold of the summit of the SCO Heads of state that will take place in Yekaterinburg on June 15-16. The meeting’s special features became teleconference bridges established between Moscow and the SCO countries capitals – Beijing, Astana, Bishkek and Dushanbe.

Telling beforehand about a live broadcast of the teleconference bridge, the Special Representative of the President of Russia for the SCO affairs and the national coordinator of SCO from Russia Leonid Moiseev reminded that “the roundtable is being held at crucial time, when preparations for the SCO summit in Yekaterinburg are being completed. Russia for the third time hosts the SCO summit in its territory, but in the Urals, in Yekaterinburg it will be held for the first time. This symbolizes the Eurasian nature of our association,” Moiseev emphasized. “In the capacity of preparatory stages preceding the summit, we organized in Moscow a meeting of Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Secretaries of the Security Council, and Heads of the Counter-Narcotics Agencies. In the Urals capital a meeting of Ministers of the Interior took place, in Moscow – that of Ministers of Defense of SCO. That is, the calendar of the organization is very eventful,” Leonid Moiseev noted.

According to him, meetings between media communities, heads of mass media, the Shanghai Six countries journalists, i.e. everybody who is aimed at covering the SCO activity in the organization countries, occupy an important place in this calendar. The national coordinator of SCO from Russia acknowledged the roundtable theme actual. “Pure information wars are being conducted around SCO,” said Moiseev. “Somebody tries to represent SCO nearly a military organization “trying” to counter NATO, struggle with the western influence and even almost “drive out" the West from the Central Asian Region. I think that such a course of action is aimed to discredit goals and tasks of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. And we will strive to prevent the further spread of this point of view and such a course of action.”

In the course of the roundtable the experts made examples how information wars help to win the real war. Balkans, Ciscaucasia and Afghanistan were mentioned here. Particularly, Deputy Chief of the Department of the Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation Sergey Ustiugov made an example how the open information is capable of being used for military purposes.

It would seem that local military conflicts do not endanger directly the SCO security. But this is, Ustiugov emphasized, only exteriorly. Data from the Center for East Asian and SCO Studies of the Far East Institute, represented at the roundtable, demonstrate that the problem of information wars around SCO really exists. As noted by the leading Russian experts, information wars had been already tested in the SCO area to create both positive and negative images by means of PR-technologies and mass media.

These technologies have been worked out actively enough in various big international projects, including NATO and partly CSTO, as well as European Community’s, OSCE’s projects etc. It is notable that many leading powers of the world attach great importance to information security assurance. Thus, the USA is establishing the whole system of measures to struggle against cybercrime. And China has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the information security of the Olympic Games-2008 in Beijing.

Russia is making its contribution to the creation of global information security system too. In particular, Moscow’s initiatives on joint measures elaboration in the field of information security fostered the creation of international legal base in relation to this problem. Kazakhstan is actively participating in promotion of its interests in this direction as well.

According to Sergey Ustiugov, the protection against information attacks in today’s world has assumed great importance. “The consolidation of states in terms of information security is taking place,” Ustiugov is sure. “Such ideas are also reflected in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization space, for the security problem in Central Asia today has achieved its maximum possible degree, this is absolutely evident.”

Tasks of the SCO countries mass media are, correspondingly, in the field of information security too. The mains ones are connected with advocacy, explanation of goals, principles and positions of SCO, as well as with the need for counterpropaganda. It has its specific character, considering peculiarities of the information and language space of the Shanghai Six.

Chairman of the Mir intergovernmental television and radio broadcasting company Radik Batyrshin suggested making a register of information threats existing in the SCO space. According to him, besides traditional ones - terrorism, separatism, Islamic extremism, this list must also necessarily include the information terrorism. Batyrshin sees in the “countermeasures” ways to bring information to the SCO states citizens. And in the first place, from television, the most mass and popular means of influencing the people.

SCO Deputy Secretary General Vladimir Zakharov, in the Moscow- Beijing teleconference bridge, answered the questions connected with the information cooperation. “I think that today the organization states do a lot of things to continue establishing the information dialogue that has just begun, to take aim at information security achievement and to proceed to their implementation. However, as it seems to us in Beijing, in this respect we could do even more. And, above all, for the creation of a single information space of SCO,” Vladimir Zakharov emphasized.

Practically all the participants of the roundtable were at one in thinking that for the further development of this direction there need to be more constructive work of all the SCO structures, including mass media. “At the first stage it will consist of elaboration of general intergovernmental agreements in order to create some sort of common information field that, in its turn, will become a forerunner of a single information space of SCO,” said Sergey Ustiugov.

Director of the Centre for social and political processes study in the post-Soviet space Aleksey Vlasov addressed to the participants of the roundtable with an appeal to create a “single for all the SCO nations image of this organization, to bring to everybody its goals and tasks”. This is one of the efficient modes of the SCO information security assurance, the Russian expert is sure.

According to Vladimir Zakharov, there came a time to begin to systematically create a large-scale, comprehensive project on elaboration of SCO’s multipurpose and multilevel information policy throughout the whole space of the organization. With this aim in view it is necessary to get involved the most professional experts, economists, sociologists, journalists, computer and PR-technologies specialists.

National components (Russian, Chinese, Kazakh and so on) seem to occur at some stage of this project advancement. But in terms of effectiveness, as well as for better coordination within the framework of SCO, a multilateral project seems to be more advisable and perspective. Some preconditions and resources for its creation and implementation are already available. Thus, under each continuing body of SCO – the Secretariat and the Executive Committee of the Regional counter-terrorism structure – their own websites have been created and successfully functioning. The SCO Business Council and Interbank Association have their information resources at their disposal.

The roundtable participants noted the important role that the InfoSCO internet portal plays in assurance of proper information cooperation. “The wole system of websites is united and interacting, particularly at the level of Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the organization member states,” Vladimir Zakharov underlined. “However I would express a wish that correspondent, agency network of the partner mass media should spread wider geographically, reliably covering all the countries of the organization. It is desirable that the major mass media of the SCO member states are represented wider in Beijing, and the Russian and Chinese mass media participate more actively in coverage of the situation in the Central Asian states.”

It is evident that cultural interpenetration of the SCO countries must be a base of the SCO information security. According to Vladimir Zakharov, the Secretariat of the organization expects a lot in the matter from the SCO University that must unite a number of higher educational institutions on the network basis and ensure personnel training on behalf of SCO, in order to contribute to economic, scientific and technical, cultural, and information cooperation.

In the course of the roundtable the opposing views were also expressed. For example, Director of the Centre for East Asian Studies and SCO of Moscow State Institute for International Relations (U), Doctor of Historical Sciences Alexander Lukin sceptically thinks about the necessity for the SCO information security achievement. “Information exists to be spread and not to be “secured”,” Lukin believes. “In this respect relevant laws must work. For example, if any website in Russia is recognized extremist or terrorist, then it will be closed. If however this information resource functions in the territory of other state, the latter must curt this site’s activity too. To this effect there are corresponding binding international arrangements,” said Alexander Lukin.

After the teleconference bridge with Beijing the participants of the roundtable “SCO: climate of confidence and information security” successively joined in with the discussion with their colleagues from other SCO countries. Astana, Bishkek, and Dushanbe were teletranslated; local experts, representatives of government institutions and journalists were presented in their studios. The discussion was very factful, informal and very concerned.

Following the results, a resolution addressed to the Council of Heads of SCO member states was adopted, of which the regular meeting will be held in June in Yekaterinburg. It states, particularly, an intention to approach to the participants of the summit with the following proposals: to make regular the meetings of representatives of media communities of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kirghizia and Tajikistan, to conduct annual information forums of the SCO countries, as well as to create a profile international information agency InfoSCO with the participation of Rospechat (Russian Press) on the base of the Russian InfoRos information agency.