Russia, US set up cyber hotline -

The US and Russia have set up a cyber-war hotline which mimics the "red phone" of the cold war.

The move is the result of a two year discussion on how best to collaborate on the issue of online threats.

It is designed to avoid an accidental or catastrophic cyber war and "reduce the possibility that a misunderstood cyber incident could create instability or a crisis in our bilateral relationship".

In a joint statement, Barack Obama and Russian president Vladimir Putin said that they recognise that cyber threats are some of the most serious national and international security challenges faced in the 21st century.

"We affirm the importance of cooperation between the United States of America and the Russian Federation for the purpose of enhancing bilateral understanding in this area. We view this cooperation as essential to safeguarding the security of our countries, and to achieving security and reliability in the use of ICTs that are essential to innovation and global interoperability," the statement said.

Unlike the hotline which is supposed to go from president to president, the cyber hotline will be a "direct communication link between high-level officials to manage potentially dangerous situations arising from events that may carry cyber security threats".

It appears that the line will run between the US cybersecurity coordinator and the Russian deputy secretary of the security council, and will form part of the direct secure communication system that already runs from Washington DC to Moscow.