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Growing cyber threats: a call for global action to safeguard peace and security

Growing cyber threats: a call for global action to safeguard peace and security


At a recent United Nations Security Council meeting on cybersecurity, UK Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Barbara Woodward, highlighted the escalating risks cyber threats pose to international peace and security.

Ambassador Woodward emphasised the necessity for a unified global response and outlined three key areas of concern: ransomware, artificial intelligence (AI), and advanced cyber intrusion capabilities.

1. Ransomware Threats:

Ambassador Woodward highlighted the disruptive potential of ransomware, noting that attacks can paralyse government functions and essential public services, creating instability. Such disruptions, especially when extensive and prolonged, can significantly impact peace and security. Recognising that any state can fall victim to ransomware, she called for an international effort to dismantle the infrastructure supporting these attacks and enhance global resilience. The UK, in partnership with Singapore, leads the policy pillar of the Counter Ransomware Initiative, urging other nations to join this crucial endeavor.

2. AI and Cybersecurity:

The rapid integration of AI systems in society presents new cybersecurity challenges. Malicious actors can exploit vulnerabilities within AI, manipulating its behavior or decision-making processes. To mitigate these risks, AI systems must be designed with security as a priority. The UK has taken proactive steps by initiating the first-ever Council debate on AI and publishing "Guidelines for Secure AI System Development" in collaboration with the United States and a group of eighteen states. These guidelines aim to ensure AI advancements do not compromise international peace.

3. Advanced Cyber Intrusion Capabilities:

The proliferation of advanced cyber intrusion technologies adds to the unpredictability of the threat landscape. To address this, the UK and France have launched the Pall Mall Process, inviting international partners to collaborate on developing strategies to combat these threats. Ambassador Woodward stressed the need for continued vigilance and collaboration in raising awareness of cyber threats.

The UK expressed deep concern over the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) using malicious cyber activities to fund its illegal weapons programs through cryptocurrency theft. This highlights the importance of robust sanctions and international efforts to curb such activities.

Disinformation Risks:

The advancement in cyber capabilities also amplifies the risks of disinformation. Ambassador Woodward criticised Russia's accusations against the UK of conducting a disinformation war, pointing out the blatant exposure of Russia's own disinformation campaigns. She reiterated the importance of combating disinformation to uphold the integrity of international discourse.

Commitment to International Frameworks:

In conclusion, Ambassador Woodward reaffirmed the UK's commitment to the UN Framework for Responsible State Behaviour in Cyberspace. She emphasised the need for governments to adapt and evolve in response to the growing cyber threat landscape through capacity-building and public-private partnerships.

The UK’s statement at the UN Security Council serves as a clarion call for enhanced global cooperation and proactive measures to safeguard international peace and security against the ever-growing threat of cyber attacks.

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