High Level Panel on Cybersecurity and Cybercrime revealed the twofold dangers of cybercrime

January 2012, Geneva, Switzerland – In cooperation with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), UNITAR’s Multilateral Diplomacy Programme (MDP) organized a High Level Panel on Cybersecurity and Cybercrime at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, on 31 January 2012. The panel consisted of Dr. Carlos Lopes, Executive Director of UNITAR, Dr. Hamadoun I. Touré, Secretary-General of ITU, Dr. John Sandage, Director of the Division for Treaty Affairs of UNODC, H.E. Ms. Sylvia Poll, Ambassador of the Permanent Mission of Costa Rica to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Mr. Ernest V. Chernukhin from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Nils Melzer from the University of Zürich, Mr. Kah-Kin Ho from Cisco Systems, and Mr. William Beer from PricewaterhouseCoopers. This high caliber of panelists contributed to making the event a resounding success.

high-level panel on cybercrime and cybersecurityThe presentations of the panelists revealed that the dangers of cybercrime are twofold. On the one hand, it harms both companies and individuals. In his opening speech, Dr. Lopes identified cybercrime as one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. As he pointed out, it is not only a threat to organizations, governments and businesses, including various sectors (e.g. energy, health, food, and water), but also to individuals. He was supported in this by H.E. Ms. Poll who underlined the importance of child protection online. On the other hand, cybercrime has negative effects on the global economy. This was a main focus of Dr. Touré’s presentation. He referred to a recent survey from the Ponemon Institute which has shown that large organizations reached annual cybercrime costs of USD 5.9 million in 2011. The survey further indicated that it takes approximately 18 days to resolve a cyberattack.

There was broad agreement among the panelists that there is a need to elaborate and negotiate international conventions that would regulate and fight cybercrime while strengthening cybersecurity. As Mr. Chernukhin argued, the existing Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime already is an important legal instrument which aims at combating cybercrime. Further conventions of this kind are required, including systematic responses to new trends of cybercrime and cyber terrorism. Moreover, educating internet users, providing technical solutions, taking legal measures, and capacity building at a national level are also highly essential factors in the fight against cyberattacks.