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article imageCybersecurity and 75th anniversary of the UN charter Special

By Tim Sandle     Jun 26, 2020 in Technology
June 26th marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. The formation of the UN has probably led to a lowering of military conflict. How can it handle conflict moving into cyberspace?
With the 75th anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter, this was designed to increase international cooperation and peace. However, 75 years on, the rules of engagement have been challenged by the fact that military operations are no longer confined to land, air and sea. The battleground is cyberspace.
Looking into the issues around cyberattacks, David Grout, CTO of EMEA, FireEye, reflects for Digital Journal on how the rules of engagement have had to adapt to the new battlefield of cyberspace.
Beginning with the foundations of the United Nations, coming out of the horrors of World War II, Grout says: "On June 26, 1945, the UN Charter was signed by 50 states. The increased international cooperation established by this charter was intended to ensure lasting peace. Even today - 75 years later - our world order cannot be imagined without the principles of the charter, which defines peaceful intergovernmental cooperation and is regarded as the foundation for maintaining international security."
However, the world is not the same as it was immediately post-world war, especially with the rise of digital technology. Looking at this, Grout observes: "The way wars are fought has changed fundamentally in recent decades. The rules of engagement - the rules for the deployment of armed forces - were designed for traditional military operations on land, air and sea."
Looking at the digital world, Grout says: "Nowadays, however, conflicts are often extended into the digital space, as states pursue their interests - both offensively and defensively. In 2013, a group of international legal experts attempted for the first time to establish a comprehensive set of rules for conflicts in cyberspace with the Tallinn Manual 2.0. This covers the two main areas of cyber warfare: the jus ad bellum, which regulates the use of cyber force by states, and the jus in bello, the law that governs how states might conduct their cyber-operations."
In terms of how this impacts upon international relations, Grout adds: "Diplomatic efforts like this can be effective in cyber security, especially when in the form of bilateral agreements such as the treaty agreed between the USA and China in 2015. Diplomacy has also produced some multilateral agreements covering both the private and public sectors such as the “Accords de Paris” in 2019 which aims to keep cyberspace as safe, stable and open as possible. The United Nations also has groups focused on encouraging nations to work together on this issue, such as the Open Ended Working Group on cyberspace and the UN GGE (Governmental Group of Experts). It would be great to see them focus on defining the rules of engagement and to share this framework with all member states in order to minimize the risks and escalation of conflicts."
So what is to be done? Grout recommends: "In order for these types of diplomatic agreements to be successful and widely adopted, a core element must be the exchange of threat information. When states share their collected knowledge about attacks and actors as well as their tools and techniques with the community of states, this improves the defense capabilities of all participants and consequently the global security level. Moreover, in some cases such an exchange makes it possible to assign observed attacks to the actors behind them."
He concludes with a final complexity: "Often attackers remain anonymous or deliberately carry out attacks in such a way that other actors are suspected. Improved international cooperation, initiated by the United Nations, could facilitate the increased attribution of attacks and work towards ensuring that those responsible can be held accountable. The possibility of imposing sanctions for a clearly identified attack could serve as an important deterrent and have a positive impact on state security."
More about United Nations, Cybersecurity, Cyberattack
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