UN: More international cooperation needed to fight cyberterrorism

A new report offers guidance to countries dealing with cybercrime and terrorism

The lack of an international agreement on cybercrime and terrorism is thwarting efforts to bring terrorists to justice, said a report released this week by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Nations should consider a universal agreement requiring countries to cooperate with each other during cybercrime and cyberterrorism investigations, the report said.

The absence of such an agreement "is an impediment to effective international cooperation in some terrorism-related investigations and prosecutions," the report said. An agreement should impose "specific obligations" on nations, the report said.

The report, focused on cyberterrorism, said terrorist groups are using the Internet to distribute propaganda to recruit members and to incite violence, the report said. The Internet "makes it easy for an individual to communicate with relative anonymity, quickly and effectively across borders, to an almost limitless audience," the report said.

The report is designed to provide practical guidance for the investigation and prosecution of Internet terrorism cases, said NODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov.

"Just as Internet use among regular, lawful citizens has increased in the past few years, terrorist organizations also make extensive use of this indispensable global network for many different purposes," he said in a statement.

Several cybersecurity groups and experts contacted about the report said they either weren't aware of it or hadn't reviewed it.

But Jim Dempsey, vice president for public policy at the Center for Democracy and Technology, called the report "one-sided."

The report "gives very little attention to the negative impact on privacy, free speech and other rights that can arise from the misuse of cybercrime and cyberterrorism powers," he said in an email. "The report selectively surveys the world's laws, tending to pick the more draconian and intrusive provisions from any given country, without providing any context, either as to how the more democratic countries limit these laws with judicial controls and oversight or how these laws are misused to limit dissent in less democratic countries."

Dempsey called the report disappointing in "how little attention it gives to human rights." Government officials should not use the report as a "reliable guide" on efforts to fight cyberterrorism, he added.

Much of the 158-page report describes established practices for fighting cyberterrorism in the U.S., U.K. and other countries that have successfully prosecuted such cases. But the report includes several recommendations.

Law enforcement agencies should work with Internet service providers to collect "key evidence" in cyberterrorism cases, the report recommended. "While some countries, such as Egypt, have implemented legislation requiring ISPs [Internet service providers] to identify users before allowing them Internet access, similar measures may be undertaken by ISPs on a voluntary basis," the report said.

Operators of Wi-Fi networks and cybercafés should consider requiring users to register and identify themselves, the report recommended.

The U.N. report also recommends governments put policies in place, including outlawing terrorist activity online and regulating ISPs. The report didn't recommend specific policies in some areas, although it noted that efforts to impose monitoring requirements on Internet cafés in some countries may not be useful if terrorists continue to have access to other forms of public Internet access, including airport and library Wi-Fi hotspots.

In addition, governments should maintain human rights protections, the report said. "The issue of the extent to which governments should regulate terrorism-related content on the Internet is problematic, requiring the balancing of law enforcement and human rights considerations," the report said.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags United Nations Office on Drugs and CrimeregulationsecuritylegalYury FedotovJim DempseyCenter for Democracy and Technologygovernmentcybercrime

More about IDGTechnologyUnited Nations

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Grant Gross

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place