Joyce Hakmeh

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A new UN cybercrime treaty process is raising strong awareness about one of the biggest global challenges and the complexities of addressing it.

At the end of February, negotiations for a UN treaty to counter cybercrime began. This is significant for many reasons.

Firstly, while there are several instruments that address cybercrime, this is not only the first time states are negotiating a binding UN instrument on cybercrime, but also the first time states are negotiating a binding instrument on any cyber issue.

Secondly, the convention has the potential of reducing impunity of cybercriminals by harmonizing national approaches to criminalization. Relatedly, the convention could play a crucial role in improving international cooperation by providing effective investigatory frameworks and facilitating cross-border data exchange.

Moreover, the convention  could help build the capacity of countries with less experience in tackling cybercrime and provide the basis for technical assistance.…  Seguir leyendo »

A person who has returned a positive test holds a mobile phone showing they have been told to self-isolate for a further eight days by the NHS COVID-19 app, on 9 January 2021 in Caerphilly, Wales. Photo credit: Copyright © Huw Fairclough/Contributor/Getty

Focusing on the dynamics between governments and big tech, on cybercrime, and on disinformation and fake news, this paper examines some of the risks that have been highlighted and aggravated as societies have transitioned at speed to a more virtual way of living.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been called the ‘great accelerator’ of digital transformation, with technology at the forefront of countries’ response to the crisis. The experience of the past year has underscored that tech governance must be based on human-centric values that protect the rights of individuals but also work towards a public good.

In the case of the development of track-and-trace apps, for instance, a successful solution should simultaneously be both respectful of individual privacy and robust from a cybersecurity perspective, while also effectively serving essential epidemiological goals.…  Seguir leyendo »

A pedestrian walks past a Huawei product stand at a telecommunications shop in central London on 29 April 2019. Photo: Getty Images.

The UK’s decision on banning mobile providers from buying new Huawei 5G equipment after December 2020 and removing all the company’s 5G kit from their networks by 2027 is a blow to Huawei and China, but that is one battle in a long war that the West is currently losing.

5G’s significance for the next generation of technology is indisputable and so is its key role in helping countries achieve digital transformation and economic success due to not only the faster and better connection speeds and greater capacity it offers, but also to its role in transforming the way we interact with the critical services and its ability to allow industry to automate and optimize processes that are not possible today.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nurse uses a wireless electronic tablet to order medicines from the pharmacy at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, England. Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images.

The World Health Organization, US Department of Health and Human Services, and hospitals in Spain, France and the Czech Republic have all suffered cyberattacks during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

In the Czech Republic, a successful attack targeted a hospital with one of the country’s biggest COVID-19 testing laboratories, forcing its entire IT network to shut down, urgent surgical operations to be rescheduled, and patients to be moved to nearby hospitals. The attack also delayed dozens of COVID-19 test results and affected the hospital’s data transfer and storage, affecting the healthcare the hospital could provide.

In the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) is already in crisis mode, focused on providing beds and ventilators to respond to one of the largest peacetime threats ever faced.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tackle the ‘Splinternet’

The development of governance in a wide range of digital spheres – from cyberspace to internet infrastructure to emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) – is failing to match rapid advances in technical capabilities or the rise in security threats. This is leaving serious regulatory gaps, which means that instruments and mechanisms essential for protecting privacy and data, tackling cybercrime or establishing common ethical standards for AI, among many other imperatives, remain largely inadequate.

A starting point for effective policy formation is to recognize the essential complexity of the digital landscape, and the consequent importance of creating a ‘common language’ for multiple stakeholders (including under-represented actors such as smaller and/or developing countries, civil society and non-for-profit organizations).…  Seguir leyendo »

The headquarters of Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague. Photo: Getty Images.

The recent revelations about the cyberattacks conducted by Russian military intelligence (GRU) in several countries did not come as a surprise. The UK and its allies have been calling for public attribution of cyberattacks coupled with, when appropriate, a series of diplomatic and economic responses, and even retaliation-in-kind. The thinking behind this is that attribution, coupled with sanctions initiated by a united front of like-minded states, could create a deterring effect.

However, these revelations also play into wrangling over cyber regulation at the UN level. Russia is planning to submit two UN resolutions later this month, one on a code of conduct to regulate states behaviour in cyberspace and one on a new UN cybercrime convention.…  Seguir leyendo »

A staff member at the UK National Cyber Security Centre in London. Photo: Getty Images.

The UK has been working towards building its offensive cyber capability since 2013, as part of its approach to deter adversaries and to deny them opportunities to attack, both in cyberspace and in the physical world. But reports that the government considered an offensive cyberattack as part of its response to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury on 4 March have brought the issue of whether and when offensive cyber operations would be justified under international law to the fore.

Under international law, a state is entitled to take countermeasures for breaches of international law against it that are attributable to another state.…  Seguir leyendo »

A lock screen from the the WannaCry ransomware attack. Photo: Getty Images.

A few weeks ago, organizations in more than 150 countries were victims of an unprecedented cyberattack which used the ransomware Wannacry, disrupting thousands of businesses and public institutions around the world. The global scope of the attack meant that in order to identify and catch the culprits a complex international investigation is needed. However, the existing international legal framework for cooperation on cybercrime is a fragmented one, with no single governance architecture, which complicates investigations and risks leaving the perpetrators at large.

Normally, perpetrators seek refuge in countries that provide safe havens where there are no, or insufficient, cybercrime laws to implement an extradition request.…  Seguir leyendo »

Yahoo! Spins a Cautionary Tale for Dealing with Data Privacy

Yahoo!’s announcement that one billion customer email accounts were breached in 2013 – double that of a previously disclosed data breach incident in 2014 – seems like yet another ominous warning of a ‘dangerous and broken cyberspace’. And a big question users are asking is: why did it take so long for the Yahoo! hack to come to light?

There are a variety of reasons why it could take weeks, months, even three years to announce a major breach - even one affecting one billion email accounts. Seventy per cent of breaches take months or years to discover, according to the 2016 Data Breach Report of Verizon.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Saudi university student on his laptop. Photo by FAHD SHADEED/AFP/Getty Images.

The recent malware attack on Saudi Arabia’s transport sector and other government agencies shows yet again that, despite high investment in sophisticated cybersecurity measures, cybercrime remains a major threat for the GCC governments and businesses alike. And with high mobile penetration rates, a large and growing number of internet-linked devices, and the governments’ supposed prioritization of “the digital economy”, this is a threat which is only more likely to escalate.

Coincidentally, just a few days after the Saudi attack was revealed, an international coordinated operation managed to successfully dismantle a global cyber-criminal network known as “Avalanche”. This was the result of four years of investigation and cooperation between police in 30 countries and agencies such as FBI, Europol, Eurojust.…  Seguir leyendo »