ITU

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World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)

Speech by ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun I. Touré

WSIS+10 High Level Event
High Level Dialogue on Building Trust in Cyberspace : Taking Stock, Looking Ahead
Opening Speech

12 June 2014, Geneva, Switzerland

Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a tremendous pleasure to be with you this afternoon for the High Level Dialogue on Building Trust in Cyberspace: Taking Stock, Looking Ahead.

Ensuring trust in cyberspace – and indeed ensuring trust in ICTs in general – has been high on the global agenda for some time.

More than ten years ago, when we launched the World Summit on the Information Society process, stakeholders from all sectors were already concerned that a lack of confidence and trust would compromise the budding information society.

That was back at a time when not much more than 10% of the world's population was online; when technologies like mobile broadband didn't yet exist; and when smartphones, tablets and phablets were still just a dream in some designer's eye.

By the end of this year, according to the latest ITU estimates, there will be almost as many mobile cellular subscriptions as there are people on the planet, and almost three billion people will be online – with a total of around 2.3 billion mobile broadband subscriptions.

Personally, I am quite confident that almost all of the world's people will come online, and will be online quite soon – whether that's in five years or ten – and therefore the issues raised at WSIS have become more important than ever at this 10-year milestone of the World Summit.

Because greater connectivity inevitably brings with it greater risk.

Distinguished colleagues,

We all know that countries' growing dependence on ICTs makes their systems and services particularly susceptible to cyber attacks – and it is interesting to note that governments (along with mining and manufacturing) are now among the three sectors most at risk from targeted attacks (Symantec, 2013).

Equally, at the end-user level, cyberthreats are increasing at an alarming rate, with almost 400 million victims last year – the equivalent of more than one million victims a day – and the number of 'exposed identities' skyrocketed last year, from 93 million in 2012, to 552 million in 2013.

At the same time, last year's high-profile revelations about surveillance activities, widely covered in the international media, brought attention to the need to further build trust, and the need for closer international cooperation.

And let's face it: countries need to come together to discuss these issues, instead of confronting one other.

We need to make sure that national security and related issues such as surveillance do not overshadow the implementation of adequate measures to ensure that people and companies are protected in their daily use of online services and applications.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Important efforts towards achieving greater trust and confidence in cyberspace are already underway – but this clearly cannot be achieved by just a few countries or a few stakeholders in isolation.

Everyone needs to work together – everyone – meaning all stakeholders from all nations.

This week, the WSIS+10 High-Level Event is bringing to conclusion a year-long multi-stakeholder preparatory process reviewing the progress made since WSIS was held in 2003 and 2005.

The event has brought together ministers and other high-level delegates from governments and senior representatives from private sector companies, as well as civil society, international organizations and academia.

It has been very interesting to see the level of attention and priority given to the WSIS action line on building confidence and security in the use of ICTs – which world leaders mandated ITU to lead, at the 2005 World Summit – and the insistence by many delegates throughout the process that this needed to continue being a key priority beyond 2015.

Distinguished colleagues,

Within the framework of our Global Cybersecurity Agenda, and in partnership with other UN agencies, international organizations and private sector entities, ITU offers capacity-building and other cybersecurity services to our 193 Member States – notably through our partnership with IMPACT, which 149 countries have already signed up to.

Within this framework, we have already conducted 50 country assessments to determine cybersecurity readiness, with three more underway. We have set up seven national CIRTs and are assisting six other countries in having one. More than 60 countries have benefited from our regional cyberdrills.

Our activities also include training of cybersecurity professionals, development of national strategies, and assisting with the establishment of regional cybersecurity centres.

ITU's technical study groups also provide a neutral, global platform for all stakeholders to come together and work on security-related standardization on a variety of topics – including identity management and cloud computing, among others.

We have made significant progress in bringing together major players from all stakeholder groups through the COP initiative in our joint effort to protect our children and youth online. Today, looking globally, this matter is much higher on the political agenda of many countries, and has become a top priority for a wide variety of stakeholders, including businesses and financial institutions.

Finally, our Global Cybersecurity Index will allow every country to assess their cybersecurity readiness, as well as enabling the tracking of global progress in this area.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Within the broader UN system, a first step was taken in 2010 towards enhanced internal coordination amongst UN agencies in their assistance to Member States with regard to cybersecurity.

At the request of the UN Chief Executives Board (CEB), ITU, together with UNODC, were the lead coordinators for the efforts of 35 UN agencies to develop an UN-wide framework on Cybersecurity and Cybercrime.

At the CEB meeting last November, after a three-year-long consultation process, this framework was endorsed by the heads of all UN agencies.

As a follow-up, the UN Secretary-General has tasked five UN bodies, including ITU, to develop a coherent strategy to address these issues – with the results to be presented at the next meeting of the CEB in November.

This is a good example of positive collaboration within the UN system benefitting the international community.

Distinguished colleagues,

ITU has been playing its role in bringing stakeholders from across the globe together, but as I said earlier, it is obvious that no single entity alone can achieve the task of building confidence and security in the use of ICTs.

As we focus on our vision for the ICT-enabled and driven world beyond 2015, let me reiterate the need for collective hard work to make cyberspace safer for everyone – so that all of us, including the billions yet to be connected, can trust and feel confident in the online world.

Without this, 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 the rapidly expanding online world.

We owe it to ourselves, and we owe it to the future!

Thank you.