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Bowing to Quirinus : compromised nodes and cyber security in East Asia Ortis, Cameron Jay


An increasing amount of scholarly work in International Relations is being devoted to reconsidering traditional concepts about what constitutes security in an era of information technologies. Yet the discipline has focused this re-examination almost exclusively on the Internet as a communications technology; a technology that allows for the ability to exchange complex forms of data--the ability to talk at a distance. Viewing the Internet through the prism of a communications media largely ignores its more potent dimension--the ability to act from a distance. This study seeks to examine the relationship between rapid Internet diffusion and the emergence of new threats and the digitization of traditional threats. The study outlines a compromised-node framework. At the core of this level of analysis is the argument that the compromised node on the Internet is the central problem in a digitizing world both in physical and theoretical terms. Other approaches used in International Relations to study security and the information revolution commonly employ more traditional frameworks built around the international system or the state and more recently the "network" level of analysis. In more theoretical terms, using a node-based level of analysis allows for a contribution to the ’broadening of security’ project that has occupied much of the International Relations literature recently and at the same time grounds the research in the technical realities that are often overlooked or misunderstood. Utilizing different methodological tools and data forms to illuminate the multi-faceted nature of the problem, this study is organized into two parts. Part one examines the distribution of compromised nodes cross-nationally in order explore the relationship between the level of Internet insecurity and key socio-economic, political and infrastructural factors. Part two examines transnational organized crime as a high-tech threat to firms and state organizations in East Asia. The insecurities of the digital world call into question the efficacy and legitimacy of traditional state-based security when applied to new Internet based threats. But for the foreseeable future the state remains the only actor with the authority, legitimacy, resources and governance tools to address these issues.

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