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Australian Ambassador for Cyber Affairs speaks at IWP Cyber Embassy Night

Ambassador Tobias Feakin, Photo by Katie Lewis, NDU A/V.

Above: Australian Ambassador for Cyber Affairs, Dr. Tobias Feakin, spoke at IWP’s Cyber Embassy Night. Photo by Katie Lewis, NDU A/V.

On Friday, November 30, 2018, The Institute of World Politics’ Cyber Intelligence Initiative hosted its second semi-annual Cyber Embassy Night. More than 30 senior executives, officials, and military personnel attended to hear about the growing relevance of cyber security and what is being done internationally to combat cyber threats.

The event opened with remarks by Dean Lane, Senior Vice President for Cyber Intelligence at IWP, and Joe Billingsley, Advisor of the IWP Cyber Intelligence Initiative. Mr. Billingsley described the raison d’etre of the gathering: “We must build this small but growing social network of those engaged in and around the rapidly evolving state of cyber diplomacy.” The introduction was followed by a lecture from the inaugural Australian Ambassador for Cyber Affairs, Dr. Tobias Feakin.

Ambassador Feakin began by discussing the importance of both domestic and foreign diplomacy and what, exactly, is “cyber diplomacy.” Tied to the evolution of communications, he noted, cyber diplomacy is becoming increasingly important to international affairs. “Diplomacy is a strange world of symbols and languages,” Dr. Feakin commented, “and it is only complicated by the Internet.”

Ambassador Feakin also addressed the gap between technology and diplomacy, saying that this gap must be closed. The Ambassador proposed five pillars that must be considered when addressing current and emerging challenges in cyberspace: 1. The application of existing international law to cyberspace; 2. Norms of responsible state behavior in cyberspace; 3. Deterrence and response; 4. Confidence building measures; 5. Capacity building.

Finally, Ambassador Feakin discussed the importance of collaboration between nations in order effectively to implement international law with a goal of increasing the deterrence and attribution of cyber threats and proxies. With ransomware capable of threatening nations’ critical infrastructures and increasing connectivity and artificial intelligence set to become major issues over the coming years, Ambassador Feakin insisted that the international community must unite to work on cyber security. According to Ambassador Feakin, this issue is fundamentally a “team sport,” and, as the world grows smaller through the globalization brought on by the Internet, the cooperation between nations to protect the international community from cyber-attacks must increase.

Following a question and answer session with the Ambassador, participants attended a networking reception hosted by IWP. Those in attendance included representatives of various allied governments, nonprofit organizations such as the Military Cyber Professionals Association and Cyber Security Forum Initiative, and academic institutions like the National Defense University’s College of Information and Cyberspace.

IWP hosts Cyber Embassy Night periodically as an effort to increase awareness, dialogue, and communication regarding the growing issues surrounding cyber security in the international arena. Rob Strayer, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cyber, International Communications, and Information Policy at the State Department, was the speaker at IWP’s inaugural Cyber Embassy Night in July.