Firstly, allow me to begin by welcoming you to this, the
inaugural First Meeting of the High-Level Experts Group of the
Global Cybersecurity Agenda. This is a vital initiative for the
ITU, which is working hard to address new and emerging
challenges to the Information Society. I should like to thank
you sincerely for your support for this major new initiative,
which I am sure will benefit from your participation and input.
ITU is honoured by your presence here today, as an assembly of
fifty experts from a cross-section of different institutions –
policy-makers, business executives, academics and other experts.
ICTs are an engine of economic growth, as well as a vital
enabler of communications. ICTs are a driving force for
achieving the Millennium Goals by 2015. The latest review by the
UN of progress towards the Millennium Goals suggests that we are
in danger of not achieving them unless swift action is taken.
ICTs have a key role to play in enabling us to meet the MDGs.
The Information Society continues to grow rapidly. By the end of
this year, ITU projects that there will be 3.25 billion mobile
phones in circulation. As many as one in two people on the
planet will have access to a mobile phone, representing the WSIS
target that is closest to being achieved. Mobile telephony shows
sustained growth throughout the developing world, whilst fixed
telephony continues to grow, albeit more slowly and unevenly.
The Internet is also growing very fast, with the number of
Internet users surpassing one billion in 2006, and nearly
trebling from 390 million Internet users in 2000 to reach 1.13
billion Internet users by the end of 2006.
However, we are engaged in a fierce battle for the future
integrity of the information society. From its origins as a
private, secure defense research network, the Internet has grown
to transform modern life as we know it. ICTs are transforming
the way we work, play, communicate, exchange information and
The future growth potential of the Internet is in danger from
growing cyberthreats. Cyberthreats have grown in parallel to
match the growth of the Information Society. By some estimates,
spam now accounts for 90 per cent of all e-mail traffic and has
reached such critical volumes that experts are warning that spam
and other related threats could paralyze the Internet. Unless
there is progress in building confidence and security in the use
of ICTs, the decline in users’ trust in the Internet will limit
its growth and transforming potential.
Cyberthreats are growing in impact and damage, as well as
number. As the recent attacks on Estonia illustrate (His
Excellency, the Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications,
Mr. Juhan Parts, will address you next on the experience of
Estonia, which was subjected to cyber-attacks), cyberthreats are
growing in the size and scale of the damage they can inflict, as
well as number.
I should also like to draw your attention to recent reports by a
well-known American news network of the Aurora experiment,
carried out in March of this year at the United States
Department of Energy's laboratory in Idaho, which suggest that
remote attacks over the Internet on the central control systems
of power stations in the United States could plunge cities into
darkness and threaten the power supply of the United States.
We are not talking about sensationalist headlines here – we are
talking about the very real prospects of very real attacks that
could be perpetrated by individuals, disaffected groups or other
Further, countries can no longer close their borders to
cyberattacks. The availability of the Internet around the world
means that hackers can now roam online freely to exploit
vulnerabilities and attack with impunity, regardless of
Hackers are also moving from a central command-and-control model
to a peer-to-peer model with a distributed command structure for
controlling botnets across different countries.
Many countries are working on legislation to combat
cybercrime and other misuses of ICTs, but these responses are
piecemeal. Cyber-attacks are very difficult to guard against,
whilst the legal framework fails to keep pace with technological
Cyber-threats have become an international problem, needing a
coordinated international response. ITU is uniquely
well-positioned to act as a forum to coordinate this
international response. With its 192 Member States and more than
700 Sector Members and Associations, ITU is uniquely
well-positioned to coordinate this international response.
The ITU launched the Global Cybersecurity Agenda last May to
provide a framework within which the international response to
the growing challenges to cybersecurity can be coordinated.
Faced with the complex challenges and dangers that cyberthreats
pose, a forum for dialogue is needed in which diverse views of
Cybersecurity can be discussed to reach a common understanding
of what Cybersecurity means. The Global Cybersecurity Agenda
will unite stakeholders and existing initiatives to propose
global strategies to address today’s challenges in the fight
against cybercrime and to maintain cyberpeace.
Complex problems demand expert solutions. The complexity of the
problem means that expert input and knowledge are required,
however. This is why I have invited you here today, to this
First Meeting of the High-Level Experts Group, to act as a
multi-stakeholder, independent advisory board on this complex
issue. Your knowledge and insights are vital in ensuring that
this High-Level Experts Group can help shape and guide the work
of the Global Cybersecurity Agenda. We are relying on you to
propose workable strategies and practical steps to address the
growing problem of cybercrime.
This High-Level Experts Group should not represent the specific
interests of individual stakeholders, but should represent the
collective wisdom of this panel of world-renowned experts. We
are relying on you to propose a workable strategy to these
pressing issues, along the lines of the structure of the
proposed work plan of the High-Level Experts Group.
This proposed work plan has been developed for your
consideration. It sets out a proposal for the organization of
the work of the HLEG to meet the goals of the GCA initiative.
This draft work plan also outlines some proposed Deliverables,
Key Milestones and Working Methods for the HLEG. Over the course
of the day, we shall discuss these deliverables, milestones and
working methods in more detail, to ensure that we make an
authoritative and meaningful contribution to the work of the
Global Cybersecurity Agenda.
We expect an informed debate to reach an agreed work plan, with
clear allocation of responsibilities for developing strategies
to address the seven main goals of the Global Cybersecurity
Agenda to tackle cybercrime and promote cybersecurity worldwide.