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Industry and Government Ask ITU To Address Cybersecurity
Symposium Calls For Accelerated Development Of Security Standards

Florianópolis, 4 October 2004 — Cybersecurity experts meeting in Florianópolis, Brazil, 4 October called on ITU to intensify work on standards for securing information communications technologies (ICT).

A key conclusion of the meeting attended by private sector and government representatives is that standardization should form a vital part of the global cybersecurity effort. Attendees also agreed that multilateral international cooperation to increase awareness and information sharing among stakeholders is equally important. A number of best practices for manufacturers and operators were also highlighted as well as the need to consider cybersecurity in all its dimensions: technical, policy and regulatory.

Speaking at the Symposium, Frank Quick, Senior Vice President of Technology Corporate Research and Development, Qualcomm, warned that it was unwise to assume that the lack of attacks on today’s mobile networks so far means that they are less susceptible. With mobile phones increasingly replicating the functionality of PCs, he said that mobile networks were increasingly susceptible to malicious attack. A successful attack on a mobile network has the potential to be very damaging given that the mobile phone subscribers worldwide far outnumber PC users. According to ITU, there were 593 million PCs worldwide or 9.97 per 100 inhabitants compared with 1.340 billion mobile phones or 21.91 per 100 inhabitants (World Telecommunication Indicators).

Another keynote speaker at the event Charles Brookson, Head of Technology and Standards Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), UK said the move to an IP infrastructure would lead to even greater challenges. He welcomed ITU’s examination of this topic.

Many speakers highlighted the need to build in security at the development stage rather than ‘bolt on’ after problems arise.

The one day event examined cybersecurity threats, experiences with and responses to cybersecurity threats, standards, policy regulatory and legal aspects and ended with a lively discussion involving the 250 plus attendees, on lessons learned and what kinds of good practice, approaches and initiatives might further secure cyberspace.

Speaking at the Symposium’s opening ceremony ITU Deputy Secretary-General, Roberto Blois said: "The increased use of ICTs has been matched by increased security vulnerability. And the growth in these technologies is not likely to peak for a number of years. But I genuinely believe that it is possible to support an increasingly diverse and open communication infrastructure safely and without compromising the data exchanged on it. Part of the answer lies in developing sufficiently robust specifications that security threats to any area of the communications infrastructure can be countered."

The Symposium took place on the day prior to the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly which will take place from 5 to 14 October. WTSA is the event where ITU determines the priorities, urgency and timeframe for completion of work relating to the preparation of its standards (ITU-T Recommendations).

Presentations made at the Symposium can be found here.

For further information, please contact:

From 5 to 14 October

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Updated : 2004-10-27