The Secretary-General of the United Nations and head of the International Telecommunications Union, Hamadoun Touré, has targeted cyber security as a pressing issue. At a discussion in London on Thursday, he proposed a global cyber security peace treaty, stating, “A cyber war would be worse than a tsunami – we have to avoid it.”
The world has already been taking steps to protect itself from possible cyber attacks, but as more and more infrastructure, like banking, energy, and utility services begin to become tied to the internet – a cyber attack could be more devastating. In 2007, Estonia suffered attacks that attacked banking and government sites.
The ITU is hoping that a “common code of conduct against cybercrime” can be reached and that each country will pledge that citizens can connect to the internet as well as protecting against cyber criminals.
The need for a Geneva Convention like cyber security treaty continues to grow, with Touré adding, “We’re in a new world order today.”
If you’re a history nerd like me, you might find it interesting to note that this is not the first time that advancements in technology have spurned concerns over international cooperation.
In 1899, little known negotiations began in The Hague. These meetings between nations were known as the Peace Conferences, the first being held in 1899 and the second in 1907, and their purpose was to define the rules of war.
Ironically, the third Peace Conference had been planned for 1915, but with the start of World War I in 1914, the third round of conferences never came to be. The Peace Conferences were first proposed by Nicolas II of Russia, who knew that with the growth of modern technology, there needed to be clearly defined rules regarding weapons technology, and what was acceptable to be used. (It’s interesting to note that Nicolas II was the one who approved the mobilization of Russian troops in 1914, and began the steady domino fall into WW I.)
Tsar Nicolas II was able to recognize that the change of weapons and the Industrialization of the modern world required new rules to be put in place. Technology has come a long way since before WWI and there are new kinds of weaponry to be addressed.