Keir Giles serves as Director of Conflict Studies Research Centre (CSRC), a group of experts in Eurasian security which until 2010 formed part of the UK Defence Academy. Keir brought the CSRC team into the private sector to establish an independent consultancy, which continues to specialise in providing deep subject matter expertise to private and government customers on a broad range of security issues affecting Russia and its European neighbours and partners. Keir's specialist research areas are Russia's military transformation and Russian approaches to information and cyber security. Keir Giles is an Associate Fellow of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) for the Russia-Eurasia and International Security programmes.
Divided by a Common Language: Cyber Definitions in Chinese, Russian and English
Co-author: William Hagestad II (LTCOL RET) (Red Dragon Rising), author of 21st Century Chinese Cyberwarfare
During 2012, both the US and UK have signalled increased willingness to engage with Russia and China on cyber security issues. But this engagement will be extremely difficult to achieve in the absence of commonly agreed definitions, and even concepts, for what constitutes cyber security.
Russian and Chinese doctrine and writing emphasise a very different set of security challenges to those which normally concern the US and UK. There is the additional complication of direct translations of specific terms from Russian and Chinese which resemble English-language terms, and therefore give the misleading impression of mutual understanding, while in fact referring to completely different concepts.
A number of states including Russia and China, which do not subscribe to the Euroatlantic consensus on the nature and future of cyberspace, have already achieved a commonality in their views and language; while this language sometimes has no equivalent in English and is therefore imperfectly understood.
This paper examines these distinctions, comparing and contrasting terms and concepts in English, Russian and Chinese. This will illustrate the dangers involved in attempting to reach a consensus - or at the very least confidence and security building measures - with states with widely differing views on cyber security without first establishing a baseline of common definitions. Examples will show how previous attempts at doing so have been counter-productive and set back mutual understanding.