Cybersecurity/Trust | Emerging Trends | Infrastructure
October 25, 2013

Real cybersecurity requires complete cooperation

By Dr Hamadoun I. Touré

In today’s digital society, it is important to recognise the impact of cyberspace on our world. In particular, the relevance of cybersecurity has continued to grow.

Cybersecurity is a complex and multi-faceted issue, with many dimensions including:

  1. National security;
  2. Upholding universally-held values of freedom of expression and privacy;
  3. The need for the equitable inclusiveness of stakeholders from all countries, including the developing world, in policy and decision-making processes.

There have been various bilateral and regional frameworks, as well as a number of global initiatives – including the ITU’s Global Cybersecurity Agenda – that aim to address these issues. However, we have yet to develop a comprehensive and inclusive international framework for cooperation. In fact, such a framework can only be truly-inclusive with full participation of all stakeholders, not just governments; all countries have to participate on an equal footing. I believe it will need to take into accounts four key elements:

  1. Access to the Internet that includes universal access to information and knowledge; quality education for all; and respect for cultural and linguistic diversity;
  2. Protection of fundamental rights, including privacy and freedom of expression;
  3. Involvement of the state to take into account existing provisions related to the respect of human rights, territorial integrity and sovereignty;
  4. International cooperation to ensure the engagement of both state and non-state actors in achieving global cyber resilience for all Internet users; and particularly for children and young people.

Cyberspace cannot be secured by a few countries working bilaterally or even multilaterally in isolation. Instead, it requires active participation and buy-in from all countries, especially developing and least developed countries. Without it, we risk creating digital ‘high seas’ ripe for exploitation by cyber pirates and cyber criminals. Such a scenario would no doubt defeat the entire purpose of a global framework.

Following the World Summit on the Information Society heads of state and world leaders entrusted ITU to take the lead in coordinating international efforts in the field of cybersecurity. ITU regularly collaborates with other UN agencies, key intergovernmental bodies and global cybersecurity-related associations to facilitate an all-inclusive approach to cyber-related issues and improve cross-border cooperation.

The need for collaboration on cybersecurity is not a task for one country or organization but a task for all stakeholders. There has been incredible growth of the Internet and worldwide recognition of its importance in enabling social and economic development. There is also an incredible proliferation of easy-to-use devices, applications and services. In no more than a decade such developments have changed our world beyond recognition. As a result, we need new frameworks that make sense in the rapidly evolving information society. It is clearly evident that no single entity can achieve this task alone. All stokeholds need to work together towards a comprehensive and inclusive framework.

I reiterate the need for collective hard work to make the Internet safer for everyone and to ensure that we can all trust the online world and feel confident in cyberspace. Without safety and trust, we will never be able to enjoy the extraordinary benefits awaiting humanity, when everyone has access to the vast opportunities offered by the Internet.

And let me conclude by giving you ITU’s full commitment to doing whatever we are asked to do by our membership, within our mandate. We are committed to collaborate and work together, because only together can we achieve our common goals.

This blog is derived from a speech delivered recently at the Cyberspace conference in Seoul. To access the full text of the speech please click here

By Dr Hamadoun I. Touré

Dr Hamadoun I. Touré @ITUSecGen has been Secretary-General of the ITU since January 2007; he was re-elected for a second term in October 2010. He has wide professional experience in both the public and private sectors. A national of Mali, Dr Touré is committed to ITU as an innovative, forward-looking organization adapted to meeting the challenges created by the rapidly-changing ICT environment, and to continuing to spearhead ITU towards implementing the resolutions of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Dr Touré is married with four children and two grandchildren.
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