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Cyber attacks are developing so rapidly that a new nonproliferation treaty needs to come about in an effort to control the amount of assaults, said the chairman of one of the world’s leading telecommunications companies.

With large-scale government-sponsored cyber attacks falling on the razor sharp edge of a potential act of war, the world’s militaries must view them as another prong in the 21st-century arms race and BT Group PLC Chairman Michael Rake suggested an international pact could help bring it under control.

Rake told a group of policy wonks and business leaders at the Worldwide Cybersecurity Summit in London Wednesday it was “critical to try to move toward some sort of cyber technology nonproliferation treaty.”

As it is with all new and different ideas, quite a few in the audience dismissed the idea, but there were some that agreed saying maybe the U.N.’s telecommunications agency could act as a cyber watchdog.

Cyber Security

In addition, Rake said, awareness of cyber crime and the necessity of protecting corporate and personal data are not highly prioritized at the board level as they should be. He added the threat also extends to governments.

“With the dependence we have on technology, a state could absolutely be brought to its knees without any military action whatsoever,” he said.

He also made reference to last year’s Stuxnet attack on Iran’s nuclear program. “Sending a worm into a nuclear facility is far less risky than any military action.”

Risks have increased as our lives have become more dependent on technology, said Matt Bross, CTO at telecom technology provider Hauwei.

“Should we experience a crisis in the infrastructure we depend on, we’d see a crisis that would make the recession look like child’s play,” Bross said.

“We’ve moved from purpose-built hardware-based systems to software-based systems,” he said. “It makes those systems more responsive, but it has also increased the ability to insert threats into those infrastructures.”

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