Cyber security and confidence and security-building measures in 2012

The Federal Foreign Office is providing 130,000 euro to support a project on international cyber security and confidence and security-building measures being carried out by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR, Geneva) and the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg (IFSH, Hamburg).

This carries on from the successful cooperation with these institutions in 2011 and the international discussion during the Berlin Conference on International Cyber Security held at the Federal Foreign Office on 13 and 14 December 2011.

The Internet now provides crucial infrastructure on a global scale for the economy and society. At the same time, cyberspace provides a new platform in the political and military spheres. There is therefore increasing international concern that it can be used not only for espionage but also for cyber attacks in a state of tension or in conflicts.

Around the world, military institutions are seeking to develop both defensive and offensive capabilities in the cyber sphere – with the ensuing potentially negative consequences for global security. In view of the difficulty in immediately ascertaining for certain the perpetrator of cyberspace attacks, the lack of security in this area is increasing.

The international security community is trying to gain a clearer picture of these potential threats. Greater transparency is the basis for confidence and security-building measures in cyberspace. Despite all the secrecy, a whole host of information is available to the public in this field. A transparent summary and description of this information would go a long way towards reducing distrust and tension, thus contributing towards global confidence-building. UNIDIR thus wants to draw up a Cyber Index 2012 and make it available to the international fora which deal with disarmament and security. Up until now there has been little detailed analysis at either national or international level of the possible use of cyber warfare in conflicts and wars and its impact on civilian infrastructure, commerce and security. The Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg (IFSH) is engaged in the analysis of possible confidence and security-building measures for cyber security.

Within the framework of the project, the development of military organizations, structures and doctrines as well as cyber attack components for deployment in conflicts and activities by states in the cyber security sphere will be documented. This will allow the international community to assess potential threats more realistically and to develop appropriate measures which can be used to avert the risk of escalation and misunderstandings. This project is the first to comprehensively examine and assess problems which can arise from state actions in cyberspace and is seeking ways of countering the resulting threats with confidence and security-building measures. Due to its international links in the political, economic and technological fields, Germany is very keen for cyberspace to be protected from threats by terrorists, criminals as well as by states.

The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) is an autonomous institution within the framework of the United Nations which conducts research on disarmament and security with the aim of assisting the UN’s disarmament efforts. The Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg (IFSH) is an independent research establishment at Hamburg University.

Last updated 07.03.2012

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