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Promoting Global Cybersecurity
ITU announces results of global survey and launches cybersecurity gateway on World Telecommunication Day 2006

Geneva, 17 May 2006 — A global opinion survey to assess trust of online transactions and awareness of cybersecurity measures was conducted by ITU in conjunction with World Telecommunication Day, celebrated on 17 May to commemorate the founding of ITU in 1865. The theme chosen this year — Promoting Global Cybersecurity — aims to highlight the serious challenges of ensuring the safety and security of networked information and communication systems.

The announcement of the results of the survey coincides with the launch of an ITU Cybersecurity Gateway portal. These efforts also highlight work being carried out as follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Action line C5 dealing with "Building confidence and security in the use of ICT", for which ITU is the facilitator/moderator.

The results of the survey were released today on the occasion of World Telecommunication Day (see here). Based on data from about 400 respondents, the survey found that opinion was evenly divided concerning safety of communication networks, including the internet, with 51 per cent finding them safe, and 48 per cent considering them unsafe. Only 1 per cent found modern communication networks very safe while 55 per cent considered them highly unsafe. Yet, as many as 60 per cent reported feeling comfortable surfing the internet and conducting online transactions, with 40 per cent experiencing some degree of discomfort.

Nearly 80 per cent of respondents considered privacy to be an important consideration in the context of surfing on the internet. Opinion was more evenly divided on whether privacy was respected: 56 per cent of respondents said that it was respected to some degree, while 44 per cent felt it was poorly respected.

These concerns over privacy were reflected in users’ fears while surfing, with theft of personal information the most commonly cited concern by over one quarter of respondents. Another quarter feared viruses and worms. Nearly one fifth were worried about spyware, while scams and fraud ranked slightly lower (13 per cent). Only 8 per cent found spam something to be afraid of, rather than just a nuisance (Figure 1, left chart), perhaps reflecting a grudging acceptance of spam or improvements in filtering.

  Figure 1: Online fears and self-restraint
 

 

 Source: ITU Online Cybersecurity Survey, 2006

Such fears appeared to have a big impact on online behaviour: nearly two-thirds or 64 per cent of all respondents admitted to refraining from certain activities online owing to concerns over the misuse of personal data or rights being compromised; only one-third carried on regardless (Figure 1, right chart).

When it came to the follow-up and reporting of illegal content, inappropriate websites and/or misuse of the internet, only 40 per cent were aware of reporting procedures in their home country, while 60 per cent were unsure on how to report online abuse. Regarding online resources to consolidate information on cybersecurity and spam, and advice as to how to stay safe online, an overwhelming 86 per cent were in favour and thought such a resource would be useful, with only 14 per cent being indifferent (Figure 2, right chart).

Half of all respondents thought that issues of network stability and security are “very important” for the future of the internet, with an additional third finding them “important” (Figure 2, left chart). Only 13 per cent thought that these aspects were not necessarily important for the future of the internet. In order to preserve internet security, over two-thirds of respondents, or 71 per cent, thought that new national laws relating to online behaviour should be enacted for personal safety, while nearly 30 per cent found new laws unnecessary. An overwhelming 91 per cent thought that the development of security standards and best practices for worldwide deployment might help in reducing online threats (Figure 2, right chart).

               Figure 2: Importance of security issues and measures for online safety
 

Source: ITU Online Cybersecurity Survey, 2006

Over three-quarters of respondents felt that greater information-sharing between stakeholders (government, the private sector and the public) would be efficient in achieving improved cybersecurity (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Efficiency of Cooperation for improving cybersecurity
 

How efficient is the current level of cooperation among stakeholders for improving cybersecurity?

Source: ITU Online Cybersecurity Survey, 2006

ITU launches Cybersecurity Gateway

On the occasion of World Telecommunication Day, ITU also launched the ITU Cybersecurity Gateway. The portal is a global online reference source of national cybersecurity initiatives and websites around the world and provides an integrated platform for sharing cybersecurity related information and resources. Presenting information tailored to four specific audiences: citizens, businesses, governments, and international organizations, the portal also provides information resources on topical cybersecurity concerns such as spam, spyware, phishing, scams and frauds, worms and viruses, denial of service attacks, etc.

With thousands of links to relevant materials, ITU intends to constantly update the portal with information on cybersecurity initiatives and resources gathered from contributors around the globe. For example, a number of countries are now ramping up national critical information infrastructure protection (CIIP) programmes and sharing information on these initiatives through the portal can assist both developed and developing economies in promoting global cybersecurity.

Mr Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary-General of ITU, said, “In today's interconnected world of networks, threats can now originate anywhere — our collective cybersecurity depends on the security practices of every connected country, business, and citizen.” He invited everyone “to explore the vast resources and links available through the Cybersecurity Gateway in promoting global cybersecurity.”

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