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22 September 2003

Working With the UN to Improve Cyber Security

National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace

The following fact sheet was released by the State Department September 22 in advance of the opening of the U.N. General Assembly:

(begin fact sheet)

Fact Sheet

Working With the UN to Improve Cyber Security

"In the past few years, threats in cyberspace have risen dramatically. We must act to reduce our vulnerabilities to these threats before they can be exploited to damage the cyber systems supporting our nation's critical infrastructures and ensure that such disruptions of cyberspace are infrequent, of minimal duration, manageable, and cause the least damage possible."
-- President George W. Bush

Introductory letter to the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace

Cyber security is a critical issue for UN member states. The United States particularly recognizes the need to improve the safety and security of all our networked information systems, and to prevent cyberspace from being exploited or disrupted by terrorists. Essential infrastructures, such as power grids, water systems, and telecommunications, all depend on information networks that span the globe. The smooth and reliable functioning of these systems is essential to the daily well-being of citizens around the world. The free flow of information is a powerful tool in promoting economic and social development, advancing education and democratic governance, and facilitating the accurate and timely delivery of humanitarian assistance. As nations become more reliant on information systems for every aspect of daily life, the reliability and security of such systems will be an ever-greater priority.

Cyber attacks can easily cross borders, posing economic and security threats and potentially inflicting damage on a massive scale. No matter what steps individual nations take to safeguard their own critical information infrastructures, these interconnected systems require a global approach. All nations must take tangible steps to reduce risks. The United States has pioneered various national initiatives and has worked with regional organizations to develop international strategies. Building on this approach, we want to encourage other nations to join in efforts to prevent and protect against cyber threats worldwide.

The United States will propose a resolution at the 2003 UN General Assembly, highlighting key elements needed for effective cyber security. The U.S.-sponsored resolution encourages nations to establish a national program of protection involving all stakeholders, including governments, business, and private citizens. The resolution seeks to:

-- Educate and strengthen awareness of best practices in information network and infrastructure security;

-- Promote international cooperation in preventing, analyzing, and investigating threats to and attacks on critical information networks;

-- Foster a partnership between government and industry to encourage incentives to ensure the security of national systems; and

-- Encourage establishment of national incident warning and response capabilities for sharing information nationally and internationally.

Previous UN General Assemblies have addressed other aspects of cyber security. They passed resolutions calling on nations to fight criminal misuse of information and create a global culture of cyber protection. The United States hopes to build on the momentum of these resolutions, as well as the work of international conferences, by promoting additional measures to protect cyberspace and the critical infrastructures that rely on information technology.

(end fact sheet)