A safer cyberspace demands systematic efforts, int’l cooperation

May 22, 2017 - 9:18 AM
Xinhua file photo

BEIJING, CHINA | The recent WannaCry ransomware outbreak across the world is the latest alarm about cybersecurity that demands immediate efforts at different levels, including international cooperation.

It has been found that measures as simple as official Microsoft patch installation and security software update can work to fend off WannaCry in the largest cyber-attack in more than a decade. The hacking highlights the need for

Internet users to heighten cybersecurity awareness.

However, It also calls for systematic efforts as well as international cooperation to tackle cross-border challenges in a digitally connected world in order to effect a universal defense.

“International cooperation on cybersecurity will be essential for a safer and more secure cyberspace,” Herb Lin, a senior research fellow on cyber policy and security at Stanford University, told Xinhua.

He deplored the fact that countries have different views on how they intend to use cyberspace and the rules they want to apply has so far made it difficult to achieve international cooperation.

Some experts foresee more attacks like WannaCry, which has since May 12 hit more than 200,000 computers in some 150 countries, to come in a digital “smart” world.

Vast majority of successful hacks require only the most basic techniques, according to the 2016 Verizon Data Breach Report, one of the best sources of information on breaches.

“Similar attacks in the future are not only possible, but they are inevitable,” said Mikhail Braude-Zolotarev, director of the Center for IT Research and Expertise of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration.

The Russian expert calls for systematic prevention.

“It is necessary to invest in something that offers real protection against malicious attacks, and this should be done seriously and systematically,” he said.

Nick Coleman, the IT panel chairman with Britain’s Institution of Engineering and Technology, thinks defenses should be built at both state and organization levels so as to make cyberspace safer.

The WannaCry attack has proven that any organization is at risk of being hacked, he said, adding that “it would be naive to think that we can patch every cybersecurity vulnerability as we transform to an increasingly connected world.”

He thinks “these are big and complex questions — and ones that organizations of all sizes need to consider regularly.”

In the longer term, “a solution to the problem is the establishment of a government department focused on this ‘smart’ world’s emerging engineering challenges,” he said.

“This would be the most effective way of driving forward legislation and governance that can improve awareness of this important subject among businesses and the general public,” Coleman added.

Other experts agree with Coleman on the need for commitment from the state and organization.

“In my view, the scale of impact to NHS (National Health Service, of Britain) systems in particular reveals a worrying lack of resources and commitment from senior management and political leadership,” commented Theo Tryfonas, lecturer of systems engineering with the department of civil engineering at the University of Bristol.

“Measures such as instigating a proactive security culture, building awareness of risks and facilitating resilience in the face of incidents across a complex organization are only built upon investment and real commitment of the highest layers of political and organizational leadership,” he said.