News: Balancing International Trade and Cybersecurity

2019-04-17 - 2 minutes read

Today’s market is full of products that can connect to the Internet. Unfortunately, this functionality can potentially be used for spying. And on a large scale, there have been reports of governments including programs like spyware and malware into globally exported products.

It comes as no surprise, then, that cybersecurity is becoming a main issue for trade policy. In fact, in a Harvard Business Review article featuring research that was partially supported by IPRI, Stuart Madnick, Simon Johnson, and Keman Huang state that “cybersecurity-related trade conflict is a truly global phenomenon. As part of our initial research on this topic, we identified 33 cases of a country blocking the import of a product or service due to cybersecurity concerns.”

Image by ricardo and licensed under CC BY 2.0.

While cybersecurity is a big concern, preventing cyber intrusions is no straightforward task. The authors explain that there is currently “no framework for understanding and categorizing the cybersecurity concerns involved in trade.” While one obvious choice is to prevent imports of potentially dangerous products from questionable countries, it is not easy to define and identify potentially dangerous products and questionable countries.

So what can companies and countries do to address cybersecurity concerns? This is important to address, since the authors say that “[w]ithout a clear understanding, governments may implement policies that result in cyber conflicts, while businesses will struggle to keep up with how cybersecurity concerns and restrictions are evolving.” To help better understand this issue, the authors discuss the different options that both countries and companies can take. Find out more by reading the full article via the button below.