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Int’l law not adequate to check terror cyberattacks: India

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 14:
India has called for collaborative preventive approach to address terrorist cyberattacks against critical infrastructures, underlining that current international law is not well positioned to deal with the threat.
Citing the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, India said that financial hubs are targeted by terrorists to impact a country’s economy.
“The investigations into the heinous terrorist attacks on Mumbai in 2008 revealed the impact its perpetrators wanted to have on the psyche and economy of the whole of India.
“These attacks, including on a hospital, railway station and hotels were carefully planned and crafted from beyond our borders to have crippling effects not only on daily life in a bustling metropolis but targeted a country of a billion people,” India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Syed Akbaruddin said here yesterday.
Addressing a Security Council debate on ‘Threats to International Peace and Security caused by terrorist acts : Protection of Critical Infrastructure’, Akbaruddin said big urban centres like Mumbai, New York and London have become targets as impact on cities serving as financial hubs affect the economy of the country in multiple ways.
He, however, lamented the lack of adequate international law to deal with the threat of cyber attacks, adding that despite years of concern, states have addressed few international instruments addressing issues of threats from cyberspace.
“Current international law is not well positioned to support responses to cyber attacks,” he said adding that protection of critical infrastructure is primarily a national responsibility.
“However, given that much of our technologies and base templates for systems around the world are similar, threats of attacks on an international stock exchange, a major dam, a nuclear power plant, possible sabotaging of oil/gas pipelines, air safety systems of airports, or potential blocking of an international canal or straits have much wider implications   and pursuant complications far beyond national frontiers,” he said.
Akbaruddin said many recent terrorist attacks have revealed that access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and in some cases their manipulation was an “important enabler”.
“The global nature of information and communication technologies raises the necessity for an international vision and coordination on policy aspects with the aim of enhancing capabilities,” he said.
He noted that Security Council decisions that impose binding counter-terrorism duties do not mention cyber attacks, while Member States have been negotiating the proposed Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism since the  latter half of the 1990s, a period corresponding to the rise   of worries against terrorist cyber attacks.
He stressed that UN member states need to work out their differences in the face of concerns regarding ICT related threats to critical infrastructure and not wait for a “cataclysmic event” to foster greater international   collaboration to protect critical infrastructure from terrorist cyber attacks.
“Since we can discern the threat and there is understandable global angst, can we look at options for   strengthening international law against terrorist cyber attacks? If we are not willing to negotiate a treaty on terrorist cyber attacks, can we at least start by clarification of the applicability of certain anti-terrorism treaties to terrorist cyber attacks,” he said, asking members states are they ready for a “collaborative preventive approach” to address terrorist cyber attacks against critical infrastructure.
“Collaboration is key to moving the perimeter you defend from your front door to the edge of your neighbourhood. Critical infrastructure protection from terrorist cyber attacks requires a ‘global neighbourhood watch programme’ because, as they say, there is safety in numbers.
“Any effective collaboration requires trust. And  currently, there is a trust deficit. The lesson from the past is that, international law on terrorism has largely developed  through states reacting to terrorist violence,” he said.
In a resolution adopted unanimously, the 15-member Council reiterated “the need to strengthen efforts to improve security and protection of particularly vulnerable targets, such as infrastructure and public places.”
Given the importance of critical infrastructure for a country’s prosperity and security and against the backdrop of increasingly diverse physical and cyber threats from terrorist groups, the United Nations Security Council underlined the need for international collaboration – both domestically and across borders – to ensure their protection.(PTI)

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