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PL4-2 Executive Closing Rountable- Cybersecurity
Cairo, Egypt
15 May 2008

Kynote Speech by ITU Secretary General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré


Greetings,

A short overview of how Africa is becoming more connected and is now an active player in the information society: there are now more than a quarter of a billion mobile subscribers in Africa. A mobile market that barely existed ten years ago is now worth more than $25 billion dollars. There are now close on 50 million Internet users in Africa, creating a commercial opportunity for further strong market growth.

African operators are pioneering new services and business strategies, including mobile banking, micro-recharge methods and flat-rate pricing models.

Astute investors are investing in Africa’s telecom markets now, to reap the rewards over the years to come.

Here in Africa, individuals, business enterprises and other organisations are increasingly dependent on information and communication technologies in many aspects of their lives.

 

Cybersecurity
And yet, strong market growth is matched by fresh challenges. I now want to talk about a subject close to my heart and a top priority for the ITU – cybersecurity and the integrity and reliability of modern communication systems.

This topic is especially relevant here in Egypt, which suffered extensive Internet outages in January and February earlier this year. The failure of a submarine cable between Alexandria and Palermo, Italy, caused severe problems in connectivity and service availability in Egypt and across the Middle East and Asia disrupting business, TV and phone services.

Modern business and society are increasingly dependent on computer systems, often connected to the Internet. These outages demonstrated the vulnerability of countries to failure or denial of service attacks over the Internet. Today, the security and integrity of the Internet is fundamental to modern society.

By every measure, threats to cybersecurity are growing. For example, to take one of the largest and fastest-growing regions of cyberspace, the number of Chinese Internet addresses infected by botnets increased by a factor of 22 in 2007. Similarly, recent estimates of card fraud in the UK suggest that card fraud is double previous estimates, taking failed attempts into account.

Cybercriminals are also becoming more organized. Cybercriminals are now using stolen card details to buy high-value electronic gadgets such as sat-navs, laptops and PDAs, which they then ship abroad and sell in a complete supply chain to other countries, where their value is much higher. Further, cybercriminals are using Internet gambling to launder the funds obtained illegally.

Individual governments are beginning to respond. Many governments have established Public Key Infrastructure programmes and Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs). The Ugandan Government is finalizing three new cyber laws in the Electronics Transactions Bill, Digital Signatures Bill and the Computer Misuse Bill.

Here in Africa, in terms of collaborative efforts, AfriPKI has been established by ANCE Tunisia as a collaborative effort of CEA, OIF and ANCE. Rencontres Africaines du Logiciel Libre (RALL) held a pan-African Regional Technical Workshop on security . CAPTEF (Conférence des Administrations des Postes et des Télécommunications d’Expression Française) has held meetings on securing information systems, fighting spam and managing Internet domain names . ITU itself held a workshop in Africa on cybersecurity in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, in February 2008.

 

Global Cybersecurity Agenda (GCA)
However, it is vital that efforts to fight cybercrime are as well-organized as the criminals. World leaders during the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) recognized the significant threats posed by cybercrime and other misuses of ICTs and entrusted ITU as sole facilitator for WSIS Action Line C5 to coordinate the worldwide response to these global challenges. This is why, one year ago, on 17 May 2007, ITU launched the Global Cybersecurity Agenda (GCA) as a leading initiative to organise a collaborative response to the issues threatening cybersecurity. An expert panel of over one hundred leading experts has been appointed to advise me on proposals for long-term strategies to promote cybersecurity. ITU represents a unique forum in which experts from a range of different backgrounds can meet to debate the issues and formulate solutions in a neutral environment free from bias.

The ITU's Global Cybersecurity Agenda brings together expertise from all key stakeholder groups (governments, industry, regional and international organizations, academic and research institutes).

Uniting experts from all these different backgrounds ensures that the GCA builds synergies with existing initiatives and avoids duplication. It also ensures the commitment and dedication of the involved experts to the implementation of solutions. For example, the work of the Council of Europe's Convention on Cybercrime is taken into account in the legal area; Intel and Microsoft are active in the technical work area; and ITU's work in standardization, Radio-communications and Development is also taken into account. The involvement of each stakeholder Group within its own mandate helps ensure the implementation of the global strategies proposed.
Thus, the GCA, through its work in the five Work Areas, links existing initiatives and provides an overarching framework for the consensus vital for combating cybercrime and addressing other misuses of the ICTs.

One year on, I am pleased to confirm that this initiative has generated a lot of interest and enjoys the active participation with contributions from world-renowned specialists in the private sector and from across academia, international organizations and government. The High-Level Expert Group sessions held at the ITU have been extremely well-attended and the experts are now well-advanced in their strategic proposals to promote cybersecurity.

Work area one, legal measures, has established key legal principles to be preserved in the development of a legal framework for the definition, investigation and prosecution of cybercrime. It has also reviewed existing legal frameworks in operation at the national and international levels, to build on these essential foundations and avoid some of the pitfalls that existing frameworks have encountered.
Work area two, technical and procedural measures, has considered current technical and procedural issues in cybersecurity, and developed strategic proposals to develop a common approach towards improving security and risk management processes for software applications and systems.

Work area three, organizational structures, has reviewed existing organizational structures and policies on cybersecurity to establish a proposal for a global framework for watch, warning and incidence response capabilities, building on ITU’s expertise and leading work in digital identity management.

Work area four, capacity-building, has considered initiatives that have been taken and recommends strategies to build capacity at the national and international levels to raise awareness, transfer know-how and boost cybersecurity on the national policy agenda.

Work area five, international cooperation, seeks to establish a common platform to enable countries to coordinate and cooperate to take action swiftly and quickly in response to cybercrime threats and emergencies. The challenge is to build on national infrastructure (such as national CERTs) to take leverage national information and resources to build an effective international response, whilst respecting security and confidentiality concerns.

Although these are early days and this initiative represents an ongoing process, we look forward to the results of the High-Level Expert Group’s collaboration towards the end of this year. It is my sincere hope that the involvement and collaboration of leading stakeholders in the GCA process will commit them personally to the principles and strategies to be endorsed within the Global Cybersecurity Agenda.
Cyber-criminals are well-organized and connected. We can only win the battle against cybercrime and other misuses of ICTs if our efforts and initiatives are likewise well-connected. The Global Cybersecurity Agenda provides that framework and I invite you all to join us in our efforts to make the information society safer for all.

 

In conclusion, let me wish you a productive and successful Round Table. I hope you will enjoy this opportunity to discuss the growing challenges to the security and integrity of our communication networks and the key policy responses needed. I hope you will take this opportunity to pick the brains of the Executives and experts assembled here today and to explore their views on potential solutions. For in doing so, you will be joining the ITU in its mission to help connect the world and fulfil everyone’s fundamental right to communicate.

 

 

 

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