1 Overview: Cyber Threats
By Paul Meyer
Senior Fellow, The Simons Foundation Canada, Chair, Canadian Pugwash Group, Senior Advisor, ICT4Peace
Cyberspace, the broad term for the system of networked computer systems for which the Internet is the chief embodiment, is a unique, human-created environment. The potential of information and communication technology to benefit humanity is vast and the growth in its use world-wide has been exponential. Today close to four billion people are connected to the Internet and a community of “netizens” has emerged.
Unfortunately, the growth of cyberspace has not been matched by a similar development of global governance for it. Even more worrisome, is the degree to which cyberspace has become “militarized” with states developing capabilities, not only for the defence of their own systems, but also offensive capabilities that threaten damage and destruction to entities beyond their borders. These trends within national security establishments of leading cyber powers have accelerated and the detrimental impact of cyber operations on civilian interests has grown. A narrative of “cyber war” has been espoused by major states, depicting this remarkable product of human ingenuity as just another “war-fighting domain”.Expand article
Fortunately, amid these disturbing developments there has also emerged a constituency advocating for maintaining cyberspace for peaceful purposes. Embracing stakeholders from government, civil society and the private sector, various initiatives have begun to take shape to promote the goal of a peaceful cyberspace and to insist on norms of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace. In parallel, “netizens” are requiring the information technological industry to take full responsibility for ensuring the security of the products they sell to consumers.
Two key demands or planks of a platform for remedial action, one that reflects both the external and internal concerns over cyber security, are for states to commit to cooperative security arrangements and the industry to accept responsibility for what is put on the market. The first idea is for the United Nations and similar organisations to insist on a peaceful cyberspace and to hold states to account via binding arrangements specifying norms of responsible state conduct.
The second idea is to require manufacturers of cyber hardware and software to assume liability for negligent security failures in these products that cause significant harm.
As the overwhelming owners and users of the Internet it is incumbent on civil society and the private sector to press governments to take appropriate action to ensure that cyberspace is preserved for peaceful purposes in the interests of all.
2 Platform for Survival items
19. The UN shall declare cyberspace a peaceful commons and create a binding treaty for international cyber norms.
20. Manufacturers of ICT hardware and software shall be liable for negligent security failures that cause harm.
Each of the proposals above has its own page on the Project Save the World wiki. Our intention is that people will volunteer to use the wiki for an essay on how the proposal can be put into action, what changes may need to be introduced, and so on.
If you are interested in being a contributor, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5 Papers and articles
With hacking of US utilities, Russia could move from cyberespionage toward cyberwar
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