Federal Foreign Office provides funds for conference on international cyber security and confidence and security-building measures (CSBMs)

The Cyber Security Conference 2012: The Role of Confidence Building Measures in Assuring Cyber Stability being held in Geneva on 8/9 November 2012 is focusing on enhanced international transparency, confidence and predictability in cyberspace. The conference has brought international decision-makers from politics, the military and diplomacy to discuss pragmatic steps towards creating a more stable and predictable cyber environment. All in all, the Federal Foreign Office has provided more than 160,000 euros in 2012 for projects aimed at increasing cyber security.

International concerns about the potential risks posed by information and communications technology in conflict situations is growing due to the Internet’s increasing importance to economic and social development but also to its role as a new instrument for politics, espionage and military activities.

It is technologically difficult to identify those responsible for cyber attacks. The possibility of an international cyber conflict could result in general strategic instability and increase the risk of wrongly attributing attacks and other errors in times of crisis. That could lead to things spiralling out of control should a situation escalate. As military and civilian users often rely on the same infrastructure, the potential negative impact on civil society and its infrastructure could be serious. Enhanced transparency, confidence and predictability in cyberspace therefore form the central basis on which future progress will be made.

Germany is pressing for the swift development of viable confidence and security-building measures (CSBMs) for cyberspace within the framework of the United Nations and the OSCE. Moreover, Germany is one of the fifteen states participating in the 2012/2013 UN group of governmental experts on cyber security and is also involved in the OSCE informal working group on cyber security established in May 2012.

Germany has put forward proposals on CSBMs, including those on

  • transparency measures: an exchange of information on applicable international law, on organizational structures, strategies and contact partners, the exchange of white papers on military organizations and, where available, doctrines in the cyber sphere, risk reduction;
  • stability measures: the establishment or consolidation of crisis communication channels, the establishment of CERTs (computer emergency response teams) and necessary procedures for exchange, as well as cyber exercises.

The aim is to guarantee an open, free and secure cyberspace and contain the risk of escalation.

With the Cyber Security Conference 2012, the Federal Foreign Office is stepping up its commitment to a global culture of cyber security.


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In 2011 it funded a research project carried out by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) and the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg (IFSH) which focused on the extent to which existing international law is applicable to the cyber domain and where more concrete rules are required, as well as which CSBMs should be agreed upon. The research findings were presented at the Berlin Conference on International Cyber Security, which was held on 13 and 14 December 2011 and organized by the Federal Foreign Office in conjunction with the Freie Universität Berlin, the IFSH and UNIDIR.

Building on this, the Federal Foreign Office is helping UNIDIR to draw up a Cyber Security Index in 2012. The Index will document 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. 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 CSBMs. 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 Cyber Index - International Security Trends and Realities

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.

More information on confidence and security-building measures for cyber space

Speech by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle at the conference “The Internet and Human Rights: Building a free, open and secure Internet” in Berlin on 14 September 2012

Conference report „The Role of CBMs in Assuring Cyber Stability“ – Genevaf, 8./ 9. November 2012

Speech by Minister of State Werner Hoyer at the opening of the conference “Challenges in Cyber Security – Risks, Strategies and Confidence-Building”, held in the Europasaal of the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin on 13 and 14 December 2011

Conference report on Challenges in Cyber-Security - Risks, Strategies, and Confidence-Building

Information from the United Nations cyber security and the group of governmental experts

Last updated 09.11.2012

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