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iBrowse: A cyber-nonproliferation pact?


New cyber attacks are being perfected so quickly that the world needs a nonproliferation treaty to control their creation and use, the chairman of one of the world's largest telecommunications companies said last week.

Michael Rake of BT Group PLC warned world powers are being drawn into a high-tech arms race, with many able to fight a war without firing a single shot.

"I don't think personally it's an exaggeration to say now that basically you can bring a state to its knees without any military action whatsoever," Rake said. He said it is "critical to try to move toward some sort of cyber technology nonproliferation treaty."

That drew a mixed response from those gathered in London for a conference on Internet security, but at least one academic praised it for highlighting a need to subject online interstate attacks to an international legal framework. Cyberweapons and cyberwarfare have increasingly preoccupied policymakers as hacks and computer viruses grow. Recent attacks against Sony Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp. made headlines, while experts say last year's discovery of a Stuxnet virus thought to have been aimed at sabotaging Iran's nuclear program is an illustration of the havoc malicious programs can wreak on infrastructure and industry.

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