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United Nations addresses wave of cyber attacks

Sep 27– In March, the United Nations’ member states developed a cyber treaty based on a set of “norms” or non-binding principles that include a permanent moratorium on critical infrastructure attacks. However, more needs to be done to address the increase in nation-state and nation-state backed cyber attacks. 

Those familiar with the matter state that UN officials remain conflicted over the next step in the process. The UN cannot enforce non-binding principles, and drafting new non-binding principles is a process that can take a long time. 

Estonia’s ambassador-at-large for cyber issues, Heli Tiirmaa-Klaar, observed that the current state of cyber is analogous to a pandemic without enough doctors. Officials aim to increase cooperation between nations on cyber security. Specifically, much attention is on infrastructure security and private sector security. 

The state of cyber security

The UN General Assembly heard from US President Biden last week, who discussed strengthening security across critical infrastructure groups, disrupting ransomware networks, and establishing clear “rules of the road” within the realm of cyber space. 

In June, US President Biden met with Group of Seven nations, along with the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, who collectively announced their commitment to fight ransomware. In the event that nations seemingly turn a blind eye to nation-state hackers, legal sanctions may be imposed. In coming weeks, the group intends to publish a document regarding how ransomware violates international law. 

Responding to ransomware across international borders can be difficult. Some nations have developed emergency response teams to be deployed shortly after potentially devastating ransomware attacks hit systems. 

In conclusion

Experts state that international partnerships are vital in disrupting ransomware groups’ networks. “This is a global challenge and we cannot do this alone,” says Lindy Cameron, current chief executive of the British National Cyber Security Centre.

For more information about how nations are addressing the recent influx of cyber attacks, see this piece about Western Australia’s Digital Plan, this story about the EU’s new Joint Cyber Unit, and these insights into global cyber security efforts. To receive more impactful insights, cutting-edge analysis and cyber security resources each week, sign up for the Cyber Talk newsletter.