The world’s countries must cooperate more to fight the threat of cyberterrorism attacks, which could threaten facilities such as nuclear power plants, officials said yesterday at an international conference.
Government authorities and technology experts from more than 30 countries made the call at the opening of the meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Information technology has “changed the dynamics of terrorism,” said Hamadoun Toure, secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union, the UN’s leading information technology agency.
“The harsh reality is that [information technology] has become a tool for cybercrime and cyberterrorism,” Toure said in a speech. “Cybersecurity must become a cornerstone of every aspect of keeping ourselves, our countries and our world safe.”
Delegates came from countries including Australia, Canada, France, India, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sweden, Thailand and the US.
Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said cyberattacks could trigger “truly catastrophic consequences” by disrupting systems that control telecommunications networks, emergency services, nuclear power plants or major dams.
“Cyberthreats are not something that modern societies and their governments can ignore,” the prime minister said. “It is necessary for governments and countries throughout the world to work in concert.”
Malaysia will be home to a new center to be run by the International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyber Terrorism, a project involving the public and private sectors.
The center is expected to open by the end of year and will serve as emergency response, training and resource center to counter cyberthreats.
“The bottom line is the threat is real,” said Howard Schmidt, a former US adviser to the White House on cybersecurity.
“It’ll be from criminals, it’ll be from state-sponsored activity, it’ll be from organized crime, so the idea of this is to reduce the vulnerability” of countries, he said.