Experts from around the world gathered in Geneva last week to lay the foundation for a global response to the constantly evolving nature of cyber-threats and the increasing level of sophistication of cybercrimes.
"Confidence and security in using information and communication technologies (ICT) are fundamental in building an inclusive, secure and global information society," says Dr Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union.
"The legal, technical and institutional challenges posed by cyber-threats and cybercrime are global and far-reaching, and can only be addressed through a coherent strategy taking into account the role of different stakeholders and existing initiatives, within a framework of international cooperation."
Dr Touré explained that the ITU Global Cybersecurity Agenda provides such an international framework.
In his special address, the Patron of the Global Cybersecurity Agenda, Dr Óscar Arias Sánchez, President of the Republic of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate emphasized the magnitude of the task ahead. "New and emerging threats to cybersecurity cannot be solved by any one nation alone. There is an urgent need for an international framework, giving us international principles and allowing rapid coordination between countries at the regional and global levels.
"I invite you to join me in supporting ITU's urgent effort, because peace and safety in the virtual world will become an ever more essential part of peace and safety in our everyday lives."
It was to reap the benefits of the vast reservoir of knowledge within the international community that Dr Touré had decided to convene the First Meeting of the High-Level Experts Group (HLEG) for the Global Cybersecurity Agenda.
The meeting took place in Geneva on 5 October 2007 with about 60 high-level experts from governments, industry, academic and research institutions as well as regional and international organizations from around the world resolving to work together to take concrete steps towards curbing the threats and insecurities related to the information society.
"The Internet has grown to become the mainstream medium, not merely an alternative, for all types of information exchange in education and health. The Internet can also contribute vastly to the development and societal processes, including transparent government and effective democracy. Estonia has pioneered these possibilities," said Mr Juhan Parts, Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications of Estonia.
Like many countries, Estonia is facing new challenges: both threats and emerging problems that have to be solved. For example, in April and May of this year, Estonia successfully coped with extensive cyberattacks – "cyber-riots" or "cyberterrorism"- as some have called it. "Building and maintaining trust among users is essential, as stated in the Geneva Declaration of Principles. A global culture of cybersecurity needs to be promoted, implemented and developed in cooperation with all stakeholders," Parts said.
The high-level experts' group reached a common understanding on the next steps to be taken to move forward with the Global Cybersecurity Agenda. Leaders were designated from amongst the experts for each of the five identified work areas: legal measures; technical and procedural measures; organisational structures; capacity building; and international co-operation.
The deliverables of this group will be five strategic reports that will be consolidated into a global roadmap delivered to the ITU Secretary-General on how best to achieve the goals of the Global Cybersecurity Agenda.