Trust matters: exploring ways for building a safe and secure cyberspace

10 Dec 2021 08:30h - 10:00h

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Use of the internet has initiated an unprecedented cycle of social reforms, as well as an unprecedented democratic access to culture, education, and economic development. In this session, moderated by Mr Chris Disspain (Donuts), speakers discussed views on main trends and different approaches to reaching trust.

Ms Sheetal Kumar (Global Partners Digital) provided an overview of discussions at the preparatory sessions on trust. On collaboration, Kumar noted the importance of building on existing efforts among different communities and linking them, bearing in mind the issues of political will, actual need, centralisation of networks, and their consequences for cybersecurity. Kumar added that a focus should be placed on the implementation of agreed cyber norms, ensuring effective exchange and addressing cyber criminality. 

The UN efforts on the issue of trust were pointed out by Ms Latha Reddy (Co-Chair of the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace), who urged regulation of the internet through binding norms, rather than through voluntary norms, to address the questions of attribution, accountability, and consequences to be faced by offenders .French Ambassador Henri Verdier also called for a specific legal framework built jointly with many different stakeholders and in line with the rule of law. Verdier highlighted the challenge of  ‘weaponisation’ against peace and global well-being through disinformation and data manipulation. 

Ms Liesyl Franz (US State Department) mentioned the US-Russia consensus on the norms in the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) report, and the Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) report affirming the framework for responsible state behaviour. These norms set the applicability of existing international law to cyberspace and confidence building measures. Franz concluded that this commitment is a step ahead in that countries will work together and with other stakeholders to implement the norms around the world while adapting and refining to national contexts.

The magnitude of the cybercrime issue has increased, as it is translated into prominent threats, ransomware based extortion, compromised business email, cyber and phone-based frauds, and illegal data harvesting operations. Mr Craig Jones (Cybercrime Director, Interpol)  explained how Interpol has developed platforms of communication for common law enforcement among 195 countries and developed technologies to prevent crime in the digital sphere.

Ms Josephine Ballon (Hate Aid) shared a survey showing that in the European Union, 60% of internet users have witnessed online violence; the number mounted to 91% among young adult users. She noted how this has affected victim participation in public debate and, hence, how it threatens freedom of speech and democracy. The European context was also brought up by Mr Bart Groothuis (Rapporteur at NIS2, and chief negotiator on the new cybersecurity legislation), who stated that the European Commission will come with proposals regarding products, connected devices, and smart devices; in addition it will sponsor the creation of a cyber toolbox to encourage regimes to provide more safety online.

Ms Rasha Abdul Rahim (Amnesty Tech Director) shared an investigation on state use of targeted digital surveillance tools, specifically Pegasus. Use of these tools threatens individual human rights including physical safety. She discussed how this spyware goes undetected and has targeted over 200 journalists from at least 20 countries and hundreds of politicians including 14 heads of state.

Critical infrastructure protection and the integrity of supply chains were brought up by Ms Anastasiya Kazakova (Senior Public Affairs Manager, Kaspersky), who shared findings from a conducted workshop on norms in infrastructure protection and the integrity of supply chains. Kazakova highlighted that looking at the normative practices and regulatory practices coming from the US, for example, helps in understanding the mechanisms and directives in preparation for next year’s European cybersecurity certification.The question of accountability and problems of attribution in the context of some countries’ destroyed infrastructure was highlighted by Ms Katherine Getao (ICT Authority (ICTA) Chief Executive). She called for a deeper and multistakeholder dialogue on the lack of a cultural fit between the global infrastructure and its complex political, social, and financial applications. Getao suggested methods to design and test solutions and share information to foster better safety mechanisms.

By Ines Hfaiedh

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