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Home : Office of the Secretary-General : CSD : New Initiatives Prog. : Critical Network Infrastructures
Creating Trust In Critical Network Infrastructures
The use of electronic communications and the related issues of security are not new. However, as the Internet and other info-communication networks become an ever-increasing part of our daily lives, so does our dependency upon their underlying infrastructure. Unfortunately, as our dependency has grown, so have hostile attacks on infrastructure by network predators. Newly discovered forms of attacks, the availability and wide distribution of attack tools, as well as the flaws in common desktop software have resulted in networks becoming increasingly vulnerable. Simple viruses are argued to have cost billions of dollars worldwide in lost productivity. Sophisticated distributed denial of service attacks on the Internet are on the rise.

Yet security schemes based solely on preventive measures or constant patching of software appear inherently fragile. Indeed, it is a kind of arms race where the attackers have most of the advantages. Defenders need to defend against all possible attacks while an attacker only needs to find a single exploitable weakness.

In the rush to move much of what we do in the real world onto info-communications networks, the implications of failure of our critical network infrastructures are not at all well understood. What exactly do we mean by critical network infrastructures? Is there anything about the architecture of the Internet that makes it more or less vulnerable when compared to other info-communication networks? Where are the weak links? If vulnerabilities continue to emerge, what are the costs in terms of users' loss of confidence? How do we increase global awareness of the issues? Do we need active global security monitoring? Is securing network infrastructure a technology or policy problem - or a combination of both? Do we need an integrated risk management strategy involving prevention, detection, monitoring and response? If so, what are the respective roles of the private sector and government? In a world of intertwined global networks, is there a need for a coordinated, sustained and institutionalized approach to protecting critical network infrastructure?

The definition of critical infrastructure is dependent on the context within which it is used. For the purpose of the ITU workshop, network infrastructures were identified as those networks, public or private, capable of transporting large quantities of data across international boundaries. Critical network infrastructures are those networks which carry information relevant to national security and safety or information of high financial value. The scope of the workshop was focused on these underlying infrastructures, their security, their availability and the public’s trust in them. Questions raised during the workshop ranged from such topics as the definition of terms of reference with regard to critical network infrastructures, the need for a global, international approach to the dissemination of information regarding the security of critical network infrastructures and ways to stimulate international and regional cooperation with respect to critical network infrastructure. The workshop also examined the role of regional and international organizations.



ITU organized a New Initiatives workshop on the subject of network security from 20 to 22 May 2002. The meeting was hosted in Seoul by the Government of the Republic of Korea.

Background and objectives of the workshop

Chairman's report (Word ) (PDF )

Workshop documents  


Pictures from the workshop  

This workshop complemented another ITU workshop on the subject of network security, also held in May 2002, by the Standardization Sector (ITU-T). The ITU-T workshop had a special focus on the technical aspects of network security. The background and output of that workshop are available here.

Background Information

Background papers:

  • ‘International Coordination To Increase The Security of Critical Network Infrastructures’, Prof. Seymour Goodman et al (Word ) (PDF )

  • ’A Collective Security Approach To Protecting The Global Critical Infrastructure’, Dr. Steven Bryen (Word ) (PDF )

A series of Case Studies of network security and regulation was prepared covering:

Other papers

  • 'Introduction to Critical Network Infrastructures', Prof. Kijoon Chae (Word ) (PDF )
Network Security resources online

News sources

Security alert providers

Regulatory and Policy resources

Miscellaneous security related resources


Other ITU New Initiatives topics
In December 1999, ITU organized a high level expert meeting on "Electronic Signatures and Certification Authorities: Issues for Telecommunications"

More information on the ITU New Initiatives Programme can be found here.


External events
Forum on Critical Infrastructure and Continuity of Services in an Increasingly Interdependent World (28-29 October, Geneva, Switzerland)


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Updated : 2011-04-04