The Nuclear Risk Reduction Center (NRRC) was established in 1988 by the US State Department to provide a direct line of communication between the US and Russia. It was designed to prevent things like space launches from being misconstrued as acts of aggression; an obvious necessity for two nations that have nuclear weapons pointed at one another. However, times are changing, and these days the NRRC looks to be taking on a new role — by providing a channel for discussions about cyber attacks.

The secure channel would allow the two nations to defuse perceived online attacks before they escalate, but things like online crime and identity theft wouldn’t fall under the Center’s mandate. The idea was reportedly conceived as a way to enable bilateral communication with both Russia and China, but the Washington Post reports that negotiations with the People’s Republic are “proceeding at a slower pace,” meaning that for now the secure channel will link the US and Russia only. The Post notes that the major elements of the deal have already been worked out, and that it could be finalized within weeks.