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

INFOFEST 2008 - Cybersecurity
Budva, Montenegro
29 September 2008

Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to take the podium once again to address you on a topic which ITU believes is of key strategic importance in the growth and development of tomorrow’s Information Society.

Information and communication technologies are transforming our world at a breakneck pace. As the United Nations specialized agency for ICTs, ITU has long been a champion of the power of technology to improve lives and create more open and equitable societies.

But with the birth of cyberspace we’ve also seen the birth of cybercrime, with highly organized criminal gangs targeting companies, individuals – and, increasingly – children.

The dark side of the Net is not a nice place. The Web is now being used for identify theft, fraud, illicit gambling and pornography of the most appalling kind.
Independent agencies estimate that there are now over 40,000 different viruses on the Internet. Spyware programmes, which collect information from users’ PCs without their knowledge, are believed to infect more than 80% of all business computers.

The rise of identity and information theft is already beginning to pose a serious threat to the Internet’s ongoing viability as a commercial platform. In the US alone, the Federal Trade Commission estimated that around 10 million US consumers each year now fall victim to some form of identity theft.

Spam, too, is a mounting problem that is costing businesses an estimated 100 billion dollars annually. Global watchdog Spamhaus now blocks more than 50 billion email spam messages every day – yet most of us have become habituated to finding our inboxes clogged with unsolicited messages, many of which are selling fraudulent goods, or involve financial scams, or are attempts to incite us to supply personal details that will be used for ID theft. Spam sent by infected zombie PCs accounts for around 75 percent of global email traffic – and as many as one million new machines are being infected every day.

Distinguished colleagues,

In 2007, ITU decided it was time to get to grips with this rising tide of cybercrime, which threatens to undermine the benefits of a network that has the potential to serve as the most powerful force for development and the advancement of knowledge that the world has ever seen.

We recognized that just as cyberspace has no constraining frontiers, so too cybercrime cannot be simply contained within one country, or one region. Every nation, every company and every individual is at risk. That’s why the only effective approach must be an international one based on coordinated global action and timely and effective information sharing.

ITU’s Global Cybersecurity Agenda is a harmonized global framework that draws on the best of existing initiatives around the world to create a practical, workable international approach to combating cybercrime and cyberterrorism.

ITU is particularly well-placed to serve as the broker and coordinating agency for the CGA. As the only UN agency to embrace a mix of public and private sector members, ITU already boasts a long and successful history of forging public-private sector consensus on the way the world manages globally shared ICT resources such as satellite orbits and radiofrequency spectrum.

In 2005, the UN World Summit on the Information Society mandated ITU to take a leading role in ‘building confidence and security in the use of ICTs’ through its role as sole facilitator of WSIS Action Line C5. This resolve was strengthened by the 2006 World Telecommunication Development Conference in Doha, and later that same year by Resolution 130 of ITU’s own Plenipotentiary Conference in Antalya.

I’m very pleased to say, that, with the delivery of the final report of the CGA High Level Experts Group, the Global Cybersecurity Agenda is rapidly gaining momentum, as we move steadily towards global agreement on an international set of cybersecurity principles and best practice approaches that countries around the world can follow.

The GCA has been endorsed by the WSIS stakeholder community at this year’s WSIS Action Line C5 Facilitation Meeting, as well as by the Internet Governance Forum.

It has attracted world-class patrons, including the Nobel Peace Laureate and President of Costa Rica, Dr Óscar Arias Sánchez, and Mr Blaise Compaoré, President of Burkina Faso.

And it has succeeded in garnering the active support of many Member States as well as regional institutions like the African Union, which have offered to collaborate under the GCA umbrella.

At our recent ITU Telecom Asia event in Bangkok, I was delighted to be able to announce the signing of a key strategic Memorandum of Understanding between ITU and IMPACT – the International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyber Terrorism – that will see that organization’s 13 million dollar state-of-the-art infrastructure in Cyberjaya, Kuala Lumpur, become the first physical home of the GCA.

The agreement will help build synergies in areas like real-time analysis, aggregation and dissemination of global cyberthreat information, to help speed early warning and response to cyberattacks. It will also provide very valuable capacity building through training initiatives in the technical, legal and policy aspects of cybersecurity.

ITU is also leveraging the Memorandum of Understanding we signed with Microsoft at our 2007 Connect Africa event, to develop a new Cybersecurity Gateway. This portal, which will build on our successful collaboration on the ITU Global View statistical mapping initiative, will provide a central focal point for organizations around the world looking to find and exchange information on cybersecurity issues.

And because children are increasingly vulnerable online, ITU will soon be launching the Child Online Protection (COP) initiative. COP is an international collaborative network based on a multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral partnership for joint action to promote the online protection of children worldwide – through education and e-safety awareness-raising, and facilitating the development and use of appropriate technologies.

COP will draw together an effective package of policies and practices, education and training, and infrastructure and technology, underpinned by an awareness and communications strategy that addresses the needs of all stakeholders with a role to play in this environment.

Distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

If we are to make real and tangible progress in stamping out cybercrime, I urge all of you to actively support the GCA, and to ensure that CGA-aligned cybersecurity provisions are included in your national ICT policies and legislation. We value your input, and we need your cooperation, if we are to ensure that anti-cybercrime measures spurred by the GCA are effective as quickly as possible. ITU pledges to support you and your institutions in every way we can to implement the best practices and approaches outlined in the Agenda. For your part, we simply request your involvement and your commitment to an open, cooperative collaboration with neighbours and colleagues around the world.

I look forward to working closely with many of you over the coming months to drive this important initiative forward, for the benefit of governments, the private sector, and individuals everywhere.

Cyberspace can be a magical place. Let’s make sure it is also a safe place for ourselves, for our business sectors, and most importantly of all, for our children.

Thank you.