Privacy / Security

Keeping the Peace in Frightening New Arena: The UN's Cyber Options

“There is a cyberwar going on,” Hamadoun Toure, secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union and United Nations official, said during a cybersecurity debate at the Geneva Press Club in 2008. “No one single entity can do it alone. We have to change the mindset. Are we mentally prepared to work with one another?”

Unfortunately, the recent increase in cyberwarfare has led the UN to mobilize in a limited way only on international cyber security. The cyber attacks on Estonia, the Stuxnet virus launched against the Islamic Republic of Iran and ongoing cyber terrorism including online fraud, identity theft and stolen intellectual property are just a few examples that demonstrate the vast challenges and the pressing need for UN leadership in this emerging battlefield.

The UN should confront cyberwarfare in its entirety by expanding its peacekeeping operations to include a cyber department. The growing sophistication and range of cyberwarfare, coupled with a lack of rules and laws that would govern state behavior in cyberspace, makes the protection of information, communications and human lives an urgent task for the UN. This proposed peacekeeping cyber operations would focus on monitoring cyber attacks and increasing transparency.

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