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ITU-T Workshop on "Addressing security challenges on a global scale"
Geneva, Switzerland 06 December 2010
Distinguished participants,

Ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of the Secretary-General I am very happy to welcome you all here to Geneva for this important workshop. As you know Dr Touré has made security, and cybersecurity in particular, one of his top priorities. He would have liked to have been here himself to welcome you but unfortunately has another commitment overseas.

Ladies and gentlemen

As the Internet becomes more and more an essential element in our lives, our economies, and society in general, security is an issue that affects us all. ITU is recognized as a key player.

It was recognized by the World Summit on the Information Society. WSIS assigned to ITU the responsibility of facilitating the “building of confidence and security in the use of information and communication technologies”.

At ITU’s Plenipotentiary Conference, which was held a few weeks ago in Guadalajara, Mexico, ITU’s role in the field of cybersecurity was strengthened again.

The conference passed several new Resolutions in this area. The first is entitled ITU's role with regard to international public policy issues relating to the risk of illicit use of information and communication technologies. It notes the vulnerability of critical national infrastructure systems which increasingly depend on ICTs. It asks ITU’s Secretary-General to discuss alternative approaches to prevent their illicit application, while taking into consideration the overall interests of the ICT industry.

The second new Resolution focuses on ITU’s role in child online protection, an area of major concern for us all.
The third new Resolution focuses on definitions and terminology relating to building confidence and security in the use of ICTs. It refers specifically to the excellent work of ITU-T Study Group 17 and its Recommendation ITU-T X.1205, which contains a definition of cybersecurity that will now be applied across ITU.

However, when considering the Internet, the problem that we all face is that, originally, it was not intended to meet the requirements now being placed upon it. It was never expected to become a critical infrastructure for most countries in the world, so it was not designed to be particularly secure. Cybercriminals have been quick to exploit this situation.

By many estimates, cybercrime is now a business that is worth more than a trillion dollars a year in online fraud, identity theft, and lost intellectual property. Not to mention the damage inflicted on the innocent and the vulnerable. If networks were to fail, or to be brought down in almost any country in the world, there could be civil unrest within days, with consequences similar to food supplies running low, power failures, or water becoming unsafe to drink. That is why improving security is one of our top priorities, and will be a major factor in the design of the future internet.

Our Focus Group on Future Networks is completing a report, in collaboration with worldwide research institutes and academia, on the visions of future networks, which will help us develop a view of ITU’s role in future standardization in this area.

Another important decision of the Plenipotentiary Conference was to create a new membership category for academia and research institutes. They will now be able to become members of ITU in their own name and at a very reduced membership fee. So we look forward to welcoming them to ITU. Next week in Pune, India we will be holding our third annual Kaleidoscope academic conference – on the theme Beyond the Internet? It promises to be another very interesting event which will give us further insight into the future.

The Plenipotentiary Conference also agreed a substantially reduced membership fee for private sector entities in some categories of developing countries.

Both these decisions will be very important for ITU to maintain a leading role in international ICT standardization, and its assistance to developing countries to create the national ICT security infrastructures that will bring the benefits of the information society to their economies and citizens.

In 2007, the Secretary-General launched the Global Cybersecurity Agenda. The aim was to provide a framework to address the increasing global concerns. In the three years since its launch it has attracted the support and recognition of government leaders and security experts around the world.

Last month, the Patron of the Child Online Protection initiative within the GCA, the President of Costa Rica, Her Excellency Laura Chinchilla, together with the Secretary-General announced a new phase that will provide a framework for coordinating existing global efforts and implementing a series of activities on safety training and prevention.

ITU has also developed toolkits on cybersecurity to assist its Members, especially developing countries. There is strong support for this approach within the leadership of the UN, the Chief Executives Board, which recently asked ITU to lead joint actions to further strengthen cybersecurity within the UN system.

We are also very mindful of the need to engage with industry. A recent meeting of our Chief Technology Officers Group emphasized the importance of ITU work on standards to address security concerns; indeed standardization is essential to building global ICT security.

As you know, Study Group 17 is the home in ITU-T for this work and it will be starting its next meeting on Wednesday. The study group has many years of success in creating some key security standards, such as ITU-T X.509 a cornerstone of public key infrastructure (PKI) without which the rise of e-business would not have been possible.

Another very important standard is ITU-T X.805 which gives telecos and enterprises the ability to provide an end-to-end architecture description from a security perspective, and allows operators to pinpoint all vulnerable points in a network, and mitigate them.

Ongoing ITU-T activities include work on architecture and frameworks; vulnerabilities, threats and risk management; incident handling and trace-back; countering spam; and security for next-generation networks, IPTV, sensor networks, mobiles, and emergency communications.

Identity management is a particularly strong focus with a special Joint Coordination Activity (JCA) designed to coordinate work on this across ITU.

We have also started to look at security concerns in emerging areas such as smart grids and cloud computing which we will hear more about in one of the sessions.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to congratulate the Chairman of Study Group 17 Arkadiy Kremer for this initiative and his team for assembling an excellent programme of distinguished speakers. This workshop is a good opportunity for non-members of ITU-T to engage with the ITU experts from around the world. Of course, I will also take this opportunity to encourage non-members to join ITU and make a contribution to this important work, and build upon this network of international experts. No other organization has this unique mix of 192 governments and over 700 private sector entities.

We recognize however that in the vital area of security, no one organization is big enough to go it alone. ITU is very keen to collaborate with all other relevant organizations, and to coordinate our work so that together we share and promote the best practices that will bring confidence and security in the use of ICTs for all the citizens of the world.

Thank you all for coming, I thank the organizers, and the moderators and speakers for their contribution, and RANS for offer us a reception this evening. I wish you a very productive and enjoyable workshop.

Thank you.


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Updated : 2010-12-06