Cybersecurity: an international issue ?

The Internet Governance Forum welcomed the French President in November. Emmanuel Macron made there a fervent call for greater collaboration in security between state actors and private enterprises. Universities complete the triumvirate of thinkers with a new and extended mission. Indeed, today’s society involves a struggle against attacks targeting sensitive personal data. It includes as well attackers who wish to undermine and disrupt elections and crucial national infrastructure.

 

50 countries have signed up to the declaration

That would be a wonderful result if you overlooked the fact that neither Donald Trump’s United States, Vladimir Putin’s Russia, nor Xi Jinping’s China are among them! A strange coincidence? These countries just happen to be the ones with the greatest involvement in scandals relating to the theft of electoral data in recent years!

As for private firms, hundreds of major companies have signed the agreement (with Google, IBM, and Facebook among them). Unfortunately, both Amazon and Apple are conspicuous by their regrettable absence.

 

An 8 point summary of the declaration

Nevertheless, for those who have heeded Emmanuel Macron’s appeal, a number of topics are on the agenda:

  • Increasing prevention and resilience in the face of malicious online activity;
  • Protecting the accessibility and integrity of the internet;
  • Cooperating to prevent interference with the electoral process;
  • Working together against intellectual property infringement;
  • Preventing the proliferation of malware and cyber attacks;
  • Increasing the security of digital products and service and ensuring cybersecurity for all;
  • Taking measures against cyber-mercenaries and attacks from non-state actors; and, finally
  • Working together to strengthen relevant international standards.

 

But what do the signatories really think ?

And how do they aim to restore citizens’ confidence in cyberspace?

“Today’s businesses have a responsibility to build trust and security in cyberspace. We are convinced that only cooperation among stakeholders and the development of public/private partnerships can guarantee this trust, and thereby enable businesses to address the new threats and risks that they face.  In that context, responding to the government’s appeal was a clear decision for us, helping us to build the digital trust that is needed more than ever before,” confirmed Philippe Trouchaud, Managing Partner of PwC’s Cyber Intelligence business.

 

This sentiment was shared by Brad Smith, President of Microsoft, in his speech to the forum: “The Paris Call breaks new ground because it brings together stakeholders from around the world to protect citizens from cyberthreats.” Will these declarations of intent be sufficient to win over states such as Israel and Iran? For the moment at least, these two states have adopted much more aggressive strategies and have transformed the manipulation of data into a new front in “economic warfare.” “If you look over the past three or four years, we’ve really seen a groundswell of private leadership,” responded Megan Stifel, the cybersecurity policy director at Public Knowledge, one of the signatories to the Paris Call.

 

Furthermore, some analysts think the absence of restrictions, like the lack of references to encryption of telecommunications, are unpersuasive for stakeholders. It undoubtedly means that the call for security will have only a very limited reach. However, the “Paris Call” is nevertheless a symbolic message of hope for those who retain their faith in collective intelligence.

 

To read also : Cybersecurity, 10 points of vigilance for 2019