What's In Blue

Posted Wed 23 Nov 2016

Open Arria-formula Meeting on Cybersecurity

On Monday (28 November), Spain and Senegal are organising an open Arria-formula meeting on cybersecurity and international peace and security. The meeting will be chaired by Félix Sanz, Chairperson of Spain’s National Cybersecurity Council, and Ambassador Fodé Seck (Senegal). The briefers will be Alfredo Timermans, CEO of Telefónica Internacional USA, and Dr. Daniel Stauffacher, President of the ICT4Peace Foundation. Three experts will also participate in the discussion: Daniel Baer, US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and Chair of the Working Group tasked with elaborating cyber confidence-building measures; Laura Galante, Director of FireEye iSIGHT Intelligence, a cybersecurity company.

According to a concept note circulated ahead of the meeting, its objective is to discuss the challenges resulting from the use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) that can threaten international peace and security. Until now, most Council discussions featuring the use of ICTs have focused on their use for terrorist purposes, including their key role in the recruitment, financing, training and incitement to commit terrorist attacks. However, this meeting aims at broadening the discussion to include the potential role of ICTs in fueling political or military tensions, as well as the importance of the protection of ICT-dependent critical infrastructures.

There are several elements that make countering cyberattacks particularly challenging, including the speed at which these attacks can be committed and the difficulty of attributing the source and ultimate responsibility. In addition, attacks against critical infrastructure dependent on ICTs, as discussed at a 21 November Arria-formula meeting on this issue, can be a threat multiplier with a powerful destabilising effect.
At the discussion, Council members are encouraged to explore ways to assess vulnerabilities and prevent cyberattacks while developing national strategies and policies, including through sharing best practices, committing to international cooperation, and emphasising partnerships between governments, businesses, regional and sub-regional organisations and civil society.

Regarding the work of the Council itself, the concept note raises the issue of whether the Council is receiving appropriate contextual information on the possible security implications of the use of ICTs in the event of emerging political or military tensions, and how it can contribute to mitigating these.

The concept note emphasises that measures taken to provide security to ICT systems and networks should be in line with the values and principles contained in international law. Although there is agreement on the importance of tackling this problem, there has been a divergence of views among Council members on the balance between upholding freedom of speech and preventing and countering violent extremism through the internet and other electronic means. Members will have a chance to discuss this issue on 30 November and 1 December, when the Counter-Terrorism Committee holds a special meeting on preventing the exploitation of ICTs for terrorist purposes, while respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.

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