Cybersecurity

Updates

18 Apr 2017

Security firm Symantec reported that a worm initially discovered in October 2016, and which has infected tens of thousands of Internet of Things (IoT) devices so far, is actually helping improve the security of the infected devices. So far, the program, known as Hajime, has not caused any malicious effects, but has in turn prevented the well-known Mirai malware from infecting the devices (by blocking access to certain ports on the IoT devices). Although Hajime is carrying a message saying ‘Just a white hate, securing some systems’, Symantec warns that ‘there is a question around trusting that the author is a true white hat and is only trying to secure these systems, as they are still installing their own backdoor on the system. [...] If the author’s intentions change they could potentially turn the infected devices into a massive botnet.

18 Apr 2017

Chrome, Firefox and Opera, some among the most popular Internet browsers, appear to be vulnerable to a specific sort of phishing attack, cybersecurity-related websites reported. The vulnerability allows perpetrators to conduct a so-called homograph type of phishing attack, in which a domain name that looks exactly like a legitimate one (such as apple.com, google.com or a domain of a bank for instance) is displayed in users' browsers, yet it is actually a different domain and leads to a fraudulent website. This fraud is possible in browsers which mishandle specific way of encoding (known as "punycode") used to display domains which contain non-Latin script letters (such as Cyrillic, Arabic or Chinese) in order to enable internationalized domain names (IDN) to be used. IDN domains used to trick the users in such way are also legitimate domain names (but used for fraudulent purposes), and can therefore obtain a legitimate SSL certificate, which adds a "https://" security layer which can additionally confuse users to believe the address displayed is the requested one. Technology websites are raising awareness about this issue and suggesting the ways to mitigate the problem in Firefox, while Chrome has released the updated version of its browser. Security professionals, however, fear that the vulnerability may be heavily exploited for cyber-attacks before users around the world upgrade their software.

15 Apr 2017

Shadow Brokers, the mysterious hacker group known for leaking stocks of NSA cyber-weapons in the past months, has now leaked number of exploits that can potentially penetrate most versions of Windows systems, The Intercept reports. The leaked "zero day" exploits - linked to vulnerabilities that are not known even to software vendors themselves and are sold for hundreds of dollars on cybercrime markets - were allegedly stolen from the NSA, and include tools to possibly penetrate Windows 8 and Windows 2012, and evidences of sophisticated hacks on the SWIFT baking system across the world. According to ArsTechnica, experts confirm that this most recent leak is one of the most damaging that the group has released thus far. In its most recent blog, however, Microsoft has declined that leaked exploits work against its currently supported products, because it has already issued patches for these exploits in March, one month before the exploits leaked. Microsoft has, however, not mentioned who had reported these vulnerabilities, yet it signaled that it had no contact with NSA officials in this regards. While most home and small-office computers have probably already been patched thanks to the automatic updates, experts fear that computers in larger institutions, whose administrators commonly take time to test how patches impact their networks before doing the updates, might remain critically vulnerable.

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Cybersecurity is among the main concerns of governments, Internet users, technical and business communities. Cyberthreats and cyberattacks are on the increase, and so is the extent of the financial loss. 

Yet, when the Internet was first invented, security was not a concern for the inventors. In fact, the Internet was originally designed for use by a closed circle of (mainly) academics. Communication among its users was open.

Cybersecurity came into sharper focus with the Internet expansion beyond the circle of the Internet pioneers. The Internet reiterated the old truism that technology can be both enabling and threatening. What can be used to the advantage of society can also be used to its disadvantage.

 

Today, the cybersecurity framework includes policy principles, instruments, and institutions dealing with cybersecurity. It is an umbrella concept covering (a) critical information infrastructure protection (CIIP), (b) cybercrime, and (c) cyberconflict.

As a policy space, cybersecurity is in its formative phase, with the ensuing conceptual and terminological confusion. We often hear about other terms that are used without the necessary policy precision: cyber-riots, cyberterrorism, cybersabotage, etc. In particular, cyberterrorism came into sharper focus after 9/11, when an increasing number of cyberterrorist attacks were reported. Cyberterrorists use similar tools to cybercriminals, but for a different end. While cybercriminals are motivated mainly by financial gain, cyberterrorists aim to cause major public disruption and chaos.

Cybersecurity policy initiatives

Cybersecurity is tackled through various national, regional, and global initiatives. The main ones are described below.

At national level, a growing volume of legislation and jurisprudence deals with cybersecurity, with a focus on combating cybercrime, and more and more the protection of critical information infrastructure from sabotage and attacks as a result of terrorism or conflicts. It is difficult to find a developed country without some initiative focusing on cybersecurity.

At international level, the ITU is the most active organisation; it has produced a large number of security frameworks, architectures, and standards, including X.509, which provides the basis for the public key infrastructure (PKI), used, for example, in the secure version of HTTP(S) (HyperText Transfer Protocol (Secure)). The ITU moved beyond strictly technical aspects and launched the Global Cybersecurity Agenda. This initiative encompasses legal measures, policy cooperation, and capacity building. Furthermore, at WCIT-12, new articles on security and robustness of networks and on unsolicited bulk electronic communications (usually referred to as spam) were added to the ITRs.

A major international legal instrument related to cybersecurity is the Council of Europe’s Convention on Cybercrime, which entered into force on 1 July 2004. Some countries have established bilateral arrangements. The USA has bilateral agreements on legal cooperation in criminal matters with more than 20 other countries (Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Treaties (MLATs)). These agreements also apply in cybercrime cases.

The Commonwealth Cybercrime Initiative (CCI) was given its mandate from Heads of government of the Commonwealth in 2011 to improve legislation and the capacity of member states to tackle cyber crime. Dozens of partners involved with CCI assist interested countries with providing scoping missions, capacity building programmes, and model law outlines in the fields of cybercrime and cybersecurity in general.

The G8 also has a few initiatives in the field of cybersecurity designed to improve cooperation between law enforcement agencies. It formed a Subgroup on High Tech Crime to address the establishment of 24/7 communication between the cybersecurity centres of member states, to train staff, and to improve state-based legal systems that will combat cybercrime and promote cooperation between the ICT industry and law enforcement agencies.

The United Nations General Assembly passed several resolutions on a yearly basis on ‘developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security’, specifically resolutions 53/70 in 1998, 54/49 in 1999, 55/28 in 2000, 56/19 in 2001, 57/239 in 2002, and 58/199 in 2003. Since 1998, all subsequent resolutions have included similar content, without any significant improvement. Apart from these routine resolutions, the main breakthrough was in the recent set of recommendations for negotiations of the cybersecurity treaty, which were submitted to the UN Secretary General by 15 member states, including all permanent members of the UN Security Council.

Events

Actors

Interpol
(Interpol)

Microsoft
(Microsoft)

Article 19
(Article 19)

CyberGreen Initiative
(CyberGreen)

G20
(G20 )

Instruments

Conventions

Resolutions & Declarations

Wuzhen World Internet Conference Declaration (2015)
IPU Resolution on the Contribution of new information and communication technologies to good governance, the improvement of parliamentary democracy and the management of globalization (2003)

Standards

Recommendations

Other Instruments

2015 Report of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security (2015)
2013 Report of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security (2013)

Resources

Articles

Apple vs FBI: A Socratic Dialogue on Privacy and Security (2016)
The UN GGE on Cybersecurity: The Important Drudgery of Capacity Building (2015)

Publications

Internet Governance Acronym Glossary (2015)
An Introduction to Internet Governance (2014)

Papers

From Articulation to Implementation: Enabling Progress on Cybersecurity Norms (2016)
Expert and Non-Expert Attitudes towards (Secure) Instant Messaging (2016)
International Cybersecurity Norms. Reducing Conflict in an Internet-dependent World (2014)
A Security Analysis of Emerging Web Standards. HTML5 and Friends, from Specification to Implementation (2012)

Reports

Towards a secure cyberspace via regional co-operation (2017)
Technology, Media and Telecommunications Predictions 2017 (2017)
State of DNSSEC Deployment 2016 (2016)
Comparative analysis of the Malabo Convention of the African Union and the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime (2016)
Enabling Growth and Innovation in the Digital Economy (2016)
One Internet (2016)
Blue Skies Ahead? The State of Cloud Adoption (2016)
Cybersecurity Competence Building Trends (2016)
Automotive IoT Security: Countering the Most Common Forms of Attack (2016)
Stocktaking, Analysis and Recommendations on the Protection of CIIs (2016)
The Global Risks Report 2016 (2016)
Best Practice Forum on Establishing and Supporting Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRT) for Internet Security (2015) (2015)
NI Trend Watch 2016 (2015)
OECD Digital Economy Outlook 2015 (2015)
Global Internet Report 2015 (2015)
Best Practices to Address Online, Mobile, and Telephony Threats (2015)
Global Cybersecurity Index & Cyberwellness Profiles (2015)
Security: The Vital Element of The Internet of Things (2015)
Cybersecurity Capacity Building in Developing Countries. Challenges and Opportunities (2015)
Riding the Digital Wave. The Impact of Cyber Capacity Development on Human Development (2014)
Best Practice Forum on Establishing and Supporting Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRT) for Internet Security (2014) (2014)

GIP event reports

Keynote Speech at EuroDIG 2017 – Göran Marby, ICANN (2017)
EuroDIG 2017 Welcoming Address (2017)
Alice in Wonderland – Mapping the Cybersecurity Landscape in Europe and beyond (2017)
Domain Names Innovation and Competition (2017)
Cybersecurity – The Technical Realities Behind the Headlines (2017)
Global Survey of Internet User Perceptions (2017)
Cybersecurity and Cybercrime: New Tools for Better Cyber Protection (2017)
Report for Symposium on The Future Networked Car (2017)
Report for World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2017 (2017)
Report for Violent Extremism Online – A Challenge to Peace and Security (2017)

Other resources

Security and Privacy Handbook: 100 Best Practices in Big Data Security and Privacy (2016)
The CEO's Guide to Securing the Internet of Things - Exploring IoT Security (2016)
GSMA IoT Security Guidelines (2016)
Combating Spam and Mobile Threats - Tutorials (2016)
Cyber Security Guidelines for Smart City Technology Adoption (2015)
Symantec 2015 Internet Security Threat Report (2015)
Security Guidance for Early Adopters of the Internet of Things (2015)
DNSSEC: Securing your Domain Names (2014)
Symantec Monthly Threat Report
M3AAWG Best Practices
DNSSEC Deployment Report

Processes

Sessions at IGF 2016

Sessions at WSIS Forum 2016

Sessions at IGF 2015

IGF 2016 Report

 

The Best Practice Forum (BPF) on cybersecurity was an opportunity to link various communities, and mainly focused on discussions about the multistakeholder process (Best Practice Forum on Cybersecurity - Creating Spaces for Multistakeholder Dialogue in Cybersecurity Processes) and again looked at how to define cybersecurity from various perspectives (Best Practice Forum - Cybersecurity). Several other sessions also shared useful experiences from developing coun- tries in capacity, especially with regard to Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) capabilities (Cybersecurity - Initiatives in and by the Global South - WS26) and awareness-raising campaigns (What Makes Cybersecurity Awareness Campaigns Effective? - WS113).

The role of the technical community and the private sector was outlined in assisting the implementations of cyber-norms and confidence-building measures by the UN, regional organisations, and governments. While the IGF was seen as the place to encounter all stakeholders, and the proposal made that a dedicated (possibly even main) session is scheduled at IGF 2017, it was suggested that the Internet governance community meets the security community within the framework of the Global Conference on Cyber Space (GCCS) in 2017, with support of the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise - GFCE (NetGov, Please Meet Cybernorms. Opening the debate - WS132).

The contribution of cybersecurity to economic development and the overall SDGs was recognised, and the roles the OECD and World Bank could play were emphasised (How do Cybersecurity, Development and Governance Interact? - WS115). The need to incentivise the Internet industry in implementing high Internet standards was noted, and the GFCE was suggested as a forum for discussion (Building Trust and Confidence: Implement Internet Standards - WS240). Security of the IoT was underlined, as was the strong link between human rights and encryption (On Cybersecurity, Who Has Got Our Back?: A Debate - WS196). A clear link between cybersecurity and human rights was reiterated throughout several sessions, and particularly by the contributions of the Freedom Online Coalition - FOC (Open Forum: Freedom Online Coalition - OF27).

WSIS Forum 2016 Report

 

As the demands of ICT-related SDGs need to be met with capacity-building initiatives, cybersecurity was identified as one of the eight core digital skills people need in the twenty-first century. Internet Governance, Security, Privacy and the Ethical Dimension of ICTs in 2030 (session 150) suggested that the interpretation of vast amounts of information and big data that Internet of Things (IoT) will bring could result in an innovative multi-trillion-dollar economy. Examples of solutions that can both boost the economy and increase security were raised in From Cybersecurity to ‘Cyber’ Safety and Security (session 172); these included the use of social media for managing disasters. 

Ensuring trust in cyberspace through collaboration between governments, the industry, and users was outlined as fundamental for utilising economic opportunities necessary for fulfilling the SDGs during discussions in Action Line C5 (Building Confidence and Security in the Use of ICTs) - National Cybersecurity Strategies for Sustainable Development (session 120). Such cooperation in the area of cybersecurity, however, should be built on trust between the public and private sectors. A Trusted Internet Through the Eyes of Youth (session 151) warned that trust on the Internet is highly fragmented due to the diverse interests of stakeholders, and especially due to surveillance programmes. Multistakeholder dialogue and shaping policies by consensus were mentioned as ways to strengthen mutual trust.

When it comes to practical suggestions for improving cooperation in cybersecurity, panellists of session 120 also suggested cooperation in incident response that can include both compulsory and voluntary reporting on cyber-incidents. Session 170 on The Contribution IFIP IP3 Makes to WSIS SDGs, with an Emphasis on Providing Trustworthy ICT Infrastructure and Services invited companies to invest more in education, professionalism, and security. Providing good quality legal and technical information and data to decision-makers was added to the list of suggested measures by the discussants of session 172. 

Various emerging risks were also discussed in several sessions. Session 172 raised concerns about the emerging face of terrorism which increasingly uses new technologies including commercial drones. 

Session 150 warned that big data should be accompanied by ‘big judgment’ and awareness of communities of the risks of ‘uberveillance’ - becoming possible due to brain-to-computer interfaces (BCIs) and and sub-dermal implants - that can have an irreversible impact on society. On the other hand, session 120 commented on encryption as a useful concept that can enhance individual security, and suggested that law enforcement agencies can benefit greatly from other digital evidence. 

IGF 2015 Report

 

With a rise in cybercrime and a sharper focus on cybersecurity by policymakers worldwide, it is no surprise that the issue was discussed at great length during the IGF 2015. Cyberattacks, which are on the rise and are evolving with the growth in infrastructure, mobile money transfers, and social media, affect the economic growth and sustainable development of many countries. The real economic cost of cyberattacks is considerable. However, as the discussion during Managing Security Risks for Sustainable Development (WS 160) concluded, it was hard to identify and calculate the cost of each cyberattack due to multiple tangible and intangible effects, with one of the consequences being the limited availability of global statistics on cyberattacks.

With regard to cybersecurity strategies, the speakers made reference to the OECD’s recommendation on Digital Security Risk Management for Economic and Social Prosperity which seeks to ensure that risk management is considered an important facet when decisions are made on digital issues. They said, however, that existing cybersecurity strategies are too focused on technology and are missing the human element. In Commonwealth Approach on National Cybersecurity Strategies (WS 131), the speakers agreed that cybersecurity should be tackled by governments in partnership with the private sector, regulators, and other governments. It requires legal frameworks, the use of technology to enforce cybersecurity, harmonisation of regional laws, and cooperation among states to tackle cross-border cybercrime.

The issue of trust (as well as other issues, such as privacy and freedom of expression, which are discussed below) was a main theme that intersected with security. Discussed predominantly during the main session dedicated to Enhancing Cybersecurity and Building Digital Trust, the panel agreed that multistakeholder approaches and private-public partnerships should be used to address the challenges. ‘If you want total security, go to prison’, said one panellist. On the other hand, surveillance and censorship cannot be used to justify cybersecurity. Surprisingly, a panellist in Cybersecurity, Human Rights and Internet Business Triangle (WS 172) revealed that 80% of actionable intelligence comes from publically available resources.

 

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