from Net Politics and Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program

Cyber Week in Review: February 23, 2018

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres talks at the Munich Security Conference on February 16, 2018. Ralph Orlowski/Reuters

This week: the UN Secretary General discusses on cyber issues, data protection in the UK post Brexit, and the economic costs of cybercrime. 

February 23, 2018

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres talks at the Munich Security Conference on February 16, 2018. Ralph Orlowski/Reuters
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Here is a quick round-up of this week’s technology headlines and related stories you may have missed:

1. Cyber at the UN. In a speech this week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres noted the lack of a "regulatory scheme" for "cyber warfare," and called for the creation of rules “to guarantee a more humane character” of a cyber-based conflict. He made the remarks at his alma mater, the University of Lisbon, a week after he urged world leaders “to have a serious discussion about the international legal framework in which cyberwars take place” at the Munich Security Conference. In 2013, a group of UN experts agreed that existing international law already applies to cyberspace--meaning that states already agree to a certain extent which rules apply to online conflict. However, member states have yet to agree on how those rules apply, and the latest effort at reaching consensus broke down earlier this year. With his remarks, the secretary general might be trying to get countries back to the negotiating table.

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2. Don't stop me now. UK tech firms urged the British government to continue its efforts to comply with European Union data protection laws despite London's efforts to leave the bloc. As the UK negotiates its exit from the European Union, the government is trying to identify which EU rules it will continue to comply with and which it will drop. Pro-Brexit ministers have suggested the country should opt out of compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that comes into effect in May. The industry's main lobbying group, techUK, argues that compliance with EU data protection rules are necessary if Brussels is to allow data about EU individuals to be transferred to the United Kingdom. The tech industry seems to have Prime Minister Theresa May on their side, who signaled that the country would continue its implementation of EU data protection rules through domestic legislation in a recent speech

3. A costly global scourge. McAfee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) released a joint report that argues cybercrime costs the global economy $600 billion dollars every year. The report comes a week after the White House Council of Economic Advisors released its own estimate on the economic impact of cybercrime on the U.S. economy as between $57 and $108 billion. Both cite denial of service, destruction of data, and variants of malware as some of the most common methods of cybercrime. They also admit that scarce data and the nature of cybercrime make it challenging to accurately put a price on the damages caused. Although these reports can be helpful to galvanize attention to cybercrime and, perhaps, sell computer security solutions, they should be taken with a grain of salt.

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