Nº 10 2012 > ITU Telecom World 2012 | Special report
Surviving the age of cyberwarfare
Panellists at a special high-level session recognized that cyberwarfare was a real global threat. With more than six billion mobile phone subscriptions around the world today, cybermaterial could be used for malicious purposes, making management of the threat difficult.
Dr Touré urged action to counter cyberthreats, while stressing that it was important not to lose sight of the tremendous benefits and opportunities offered by the rise of the Internet.
Earlier this year, a complex piece of malware called the Flame Virus made headlines, alerting the world of the serious threats that also come with rising global connectivity. These threats are moving faster than the institutions that can tackle them.
“We are living in a very, very fast moving world,” said Eugene Kaspersky, Founder and CEO of Kaspersky Labs, which is credited with uncovering the Flame Virus. “Cyber malware is moving fast, and governments don’t have enough time to keep up and tackle this threat.” Part of the problem is that there is no internationally agreed definition of what constitutes “cyberwarfare”.
Even more alarming, said Mr Kaspersky, is that the nature of cyberweapons means they can be easily copied and used for terrorist purposes.
Mr Kaspersky has worked in the field of computer threats for 20 years and witnessed first-hand how the threat of malware has become pervasive. Internet worms first appeared in 1999 and the problem has grown exponentially in the PC world ever since. Mobiles are next, with iPhone and Android devices everywhere, a well-placed smartphone virus could affect us all.
The role of technology in enabling sustainable growth
Technology can be used to enable sustainable growth, and much of this growth will come from the creation and consumption of services. “There are so many things that we do now as a matter of routine that we can do virtually instead of physically”, Cisco’s Chief Globalization Officer, Wim Elfrink said, giving examples of video-linked meeting spaces, virtual medical appointments, and work routines that rarely involve a commute to the office.
All devices will be connected and societies will be smart, driving productivity and making our world safer and greener. “We have to think of this as a new industry, the Internet of everything”, added Mr Elfrink.
In this new future, the developing world with its growing and youthful populations will play a key role, driving innovation and change. “We need visionary leadership, and we need people and politicians with the passion to make a difference”, said Mr Elfrink. “The ITU is playing a key role in that, to make it happen.”
On the brink of a networked society
According to the Head of Ericsson in the Middle East, Anders Lindblad, we only have to look at the changes brought by the emergence of the smartphone four years ago to know that we stand on the brink of a smart world, with telecommunication infrastructure providing the foundation of this interconnected world, and ICT entering new ecosystems such as health care, education and security. “Imagine the people that are going to run the show for the next 30 years and the things that they can innovate in these ecosystems”, said Mr Lindblad.
Exploratory research by Ericsson Labs, presented by Niklas Björk, offered a world of talking objects: trucks communicating delivery information, drawers that can locate a mislaid passport, and sofas asking to be replaced.
“I hope that this infrastructure can really help the world to be more environmental, and that CO2 emissions are brought down,” said Mr Lindblad. Children born today will be able to “innovate in a completely different fashion”, he said.