An unprecedented global “ransomware” attack that hit at least 100,000 organizations in 150 countries spread to thousands more computers Monday as people returned to work and logged in for the first time since the massive online assault began.
The challenges of cyber terrorism are now visible worldwide and the devastating effects of terror activities require international cooperation, said Dr Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.
“Criminal and terrorist organisations around the world have woken up to the immense loopholes existing in the regulation of the internet or technological systems. And of late, we have witnessed attacks on universities and healthcare institutions that show the terrorists are trying to target systems with important personal data,” said Gargash. “All these indicate the magnitude of the threat we are facing.”
The minister made the comments during his key note speech at a conference on countering cyber threats posed by terrorists in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
“The challenge for all of us today is working together to step up our response to the challenges of cyber terrorism we are facing. We need to devote proper time and effort so that these can be addressed collectively.”
Gargash said critical infrastructure and important data of many countries is at stake and people’s dependence on data is being affected by terrorists.
According to Gargash, the main objective of the conference was to find a common ground for the implementation of a system of international law and legislation that criminalizes cyber terrorism. He also noted that the UAE believes in collective action to protect communities and is committed to fight against terrorism.
“To win this battle of ideas, we need to recognise the complexity of the problem and that the nature of the battle varies significantly between different communities, countries and regions,” he pointed out.
Dr Jehangir Khan, Director of the UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) at the UN Counter Terrorism Centre, said cyberspace provides terrorists with potential targets to attack people, for instance through hacking important information for governments and luring young people into terror activities.
“Terrorists use the internet to raise funds and recruit young people in terror activities,” he said.
Khan said there was an urgent need to fight terrorism and that countries need to join efforts in this fight.
“Only through international collaboration can we identity ways to fight terrorism. The UN’s recent action plan against terrorism recommends members to come up with ways, including strict legislations, to tackle cyberterrorism and the abuse of the internet by terrorists,” said Khan.
He underlined that given the dynamic nature of the cybercrimes, it’s important to come up with ideas on how the internet can become crime-free.
The UN official also urged nations to invest in the youngsters by equipping them with technological knowledge and skills as they can be a valuable asset and great allies in the fight against terrorism.