Committed to connecting the world

ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

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

World Economic Forum (WEF 2013) 

  Cross-Industry CEO Session

Dynamic Resilience in a Hyperconnected World : Putting Principles into Practice
25 January 2013, Davos, Switzerland
Ladies and gentlemen,

In 2013, we live in a society where almost everyone is connected to information and communication technologies (ICTs) – with over six billion mobile cellular subscriptions worldwide and more than 2.5 billion people online.

Ubiquitous, interconnected ICTs offer us the opportunity to address every single one of the biggest issues facing humanity today. Issues such as monitoring and adapting to climate change. Issues as big as global poverty. Issues as big as bringing affordable healthcare and education to all the world’s people.

But of course hyperconnectivity comes with risks, too, and notably the issue of cybersecurity, and the risk of creating a two-tier Internet.

Background materials for WEF 2012 included a very interesting quote from a former CIA Director: “we are building our future on an asset that we have not yet learned how to protect”.

Hardly a month goes by without major security intrusions and data losses – even from some of the most secure organizations in the world.

The loss of thousands of files from the Pentagon prompted US Deputy Defence Secretary William Lynn to say: “In the 21st Century, bits and bytes can be as threatening as bullets and bombs.”

Cybersecurity has already clearly become one of the greatest issues of our times, and it will continue to grow in importance.

We have not seen a real cyberwar yet – but we are certainly witnessing a virtual, undeclared war in cyberspace; a war between the undeniable good which comes from being part of the global knowledge society, and the evil which could ruin it all.

Cybersecurity is a global issue, which can only be solved with global solutions.

This is why we must work together to set international policies and standards, and to build an international framework for cybersecurity and cyberpeace.

We also need to make sure the private sector is closely involved.

In many ways the private sector stands to gain the most from the Internet – and to lose the most from breaches in cybersecurity.

ITU strongly supports the WEF ‘Commitment to Cyber-resilience’, which was launched last year here in Davos – and we applaud the work which has been done to further this initiative over the past twelve months, and in particular the project sessions which took place last month in Dublin and Washington.

ITU would be very happy to see the private sector and our sister UN agencies playing a more active role in the ITU-IMPACT initiative, the first truly global multi-stakeholder and public–private alliance against cyberthreats, which already brings together more than 140 countries.

I firmly believe that to be effective, all such initiatives must include participation from all stakeholders, including both the public and private sectors, as well as international organizations.

They must also be complementary, and avoid creating silos, which risk fragmenting a coherent, coordinated approach to ensuring global cyber-resilience – our common goal.

Thank you.