The digital world offers tremendous opportunity to improve human lives, but its unintended effects – on the security of people and countries around the world – are decidedly real.
Online human trafficking, cyberattacks on critical infrastructure and digital espionage are potent information age challenges perpetrated by individuals and groups operating in a borderless virtual realm. Cybercriminals have built thriving marketplaces trading in data, people and illicit goods that flout the boundaries of national and international law. And terrorist groups use the power of social media to attract new recruits.
These are the new threats of the digital age.
Governments and individuals are growing as targets for cybercrime, representing a quarter of all attacks. Yet, as the frequency, severity and sophistication of cyber-enabled threats increase dramatically, information and communications technologies remain vulnerable and policy and legal frameworks inconsistent and embryonic. Methods of attack are maturing faster than the global community can respond.
Global challenge, collective approach
Ensuring technology is used to create a better world, not a more dangerous one, is critical to the United Nations mandate to improve human lives around the world.
However, effectively addressing the emerging challenges of cyber threats to peace and security and their effects on development must involve collaboration between all stakeholders, including the United Nations Secretariat, Agencies, Funds and Member States, as well as external partners, including academia, the public and private sectors and the public.
As part of its strategy to ensure a modern and responsive ICT environment that supports the core work of the United Nations, the Office of Information and Communications Technology (OICT) is leading efforts to build capacity, strengthen coordination and foster collaboration to enhance cybersecurity preparedness, resilience and response. In partnership with other United Nations entities, the Digital Blue Helmets (DBH) programme amplifies the cyber expertise and perspectives of the United Nations.
The programme serves as a common platform for rapid information exchange and better coordination of protective and defensive measures against cyber threats to the United Nations, and aligns the Organization’s cyber operations and cybersecurity policy, frameworks and legal activities. Ultimately the programme will support the United Nations' efforts in the areas of peace and security, sustainable development, international law, human rights and humanitarian aid through coordinated policy development, monitoring, response and mitigation strategies.