The worldwide information infrastructure is today increasingly under attack by cyber criminals and terrorists--and the number, cost, and sophistication of the attacks are increasing at alarming rates. With annual damage around the world now measured in billions of U.S. dollars, these attacks threaten the substantial and ever-growing reliance of commerce, governments, and the public upon the new technology to conduct business, carry messages, and process information.

At a Hoover Institution conference, more than forty members of government, industry, and academia assembled to discuss this problem and explore possible countermeasures. The Transnational Dimension of Cyber Crime and Terrorism (Hoover Press, 2001), edited by Hoover senior fellow Abraham D. Sofaer and Seymour E. Goodman, summarizes the conference papers and exchanges, addressing pertinent issues in chapters that include a review of the legal initiatives undertaken around the world to combat cyber crime, an exploration of the threat to civil aviation, analysis of the constitutional, legal, economic, and ethical constraints on the use of technology to control cyber crime, and a discussion of the ways we can achieve security objectives through international cooperation.

“Computers and communications are increasingly being used in almost every imaginable application,” warns conference participant Peter G. Neumann, principal scientist at the Computer Science Laboratory, SRI International. “However, our computer-communication systems are not dependably secure, reliable, or robust. There are fundamental vulnerabilities in the existing information system infrastructures, and serious risks that those vulnerabilities will be exploited--with possibly very severe effects.”

Although much has been said about the threat posed by worldwide cyber crime, little has been done to protect against it. A transnational response sufficient to meet this challenge is an immediate and compelling necessity--and this book is a critical first step in that direction.

On this point, Hoover director John Raisian writes in his foreword to the book, “During the conference, a clear consensus of the conference participants emerged: greater international cooperation is required, and a multilateral treaty focused on criminal penalties for the abuse of cyber systems would help build the necessary cooperative framework.”

Abraham D. Sofaer is the George P. Shultz Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and professor of law, by courtesy, Stanford Law School. He served as legal adviser to the U.S. Department of State from 1985 to 1990. Seymour E. Goodman is a professor of international affairs and computing, Georgia Institute of Technology.

The Hoover Institution, founded at Stanford University in 1919 by Herbert Hoover, who went on to become the 31st president of the United States, is an interdisciplinary research center for advanced study on domestic and international affairs.

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