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Victoria Woodbine

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The Case for Cyber Capacity Building

Posted: 05/09/2013 15:07

All countries who can, should, and increasingly do, work to increase national defences against cyber threats; but often in cyberspace we are only as secure as the weakest link. Despite widespread agreement on the importance of cyber capacity building-capacity building has already proven effective in reducing other global threats such as counter-narcotics and counter terrorism-current efforts are inadequate to meet demand. For that reason, it is also in our interests to raise cyber security levels globally by ensuring other countries have the national programmes, policies, skills and technology to tackle these same threats and cooperate internationally.

The UK's National Cyber Security Strategy aims to increase the scale and impact of these efforts by building resilience globally and assisting those countries that lack the infrastructure and expertise to protect their cyberspace, while also working to ensure cyberspace supports innovation, economic growth and social benefits.

This year the UK, using its Presidency of the G8, emphasised the need for this kind of capacity building and in the final communiqué text Ministers committed to promoting and advancing international initiatives. The Foreign Secretary and the Minister for the Cabinet Office also recently announced the establishment of a UK Global Cyber Security Capacity Building Centre that we hope will become a leading global resource for understanding how to deliver effective cyber security and stimulate increased support from other nations and private sector partners.

The Centre, led by specialist researchers and an outreach team, will work with industry, international organisations and other countries to set out the scope of required skills and capabilities globally. This research will prioritise regions, countries and organisations to receive capacity-building resources, and address how and from where those who require it can best gain support and expertise.

The Centre is only part of a wider £2m (US $3m) UK fund which is already helping to build capacity with international organisations including Interpol, UNODC and the Commonwealth. We recognise that this funding alone cannot address the global need but we hope these efforts will inspire others.

Ultimately, also, money is not the only thing required for success. The UK and US governments are looking to learn from the experience of private sector partners, and to this end the U.S. State Department will sponsor a workshop on September 13th in Washington, D.C., focused on the role of industry. The outcomes of the workshop will be reflected in a paper to inform the October 2013 Seoul Cyber Conference.

Nations and other stakeholders should develop mechanisms that allow them to combine their resources and different kinds of expertise to get the best results. Insights from industry, successful approaches and a better understanding of commercial motives will all help identify ways of making the most of private sector expertise and pooling resources to develop effective cyber capacity building and deliver it to the countries that need it most.

 

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