Time to review cyber trust, says ICSPA

The world needs to reset the clock on trust after Snowden's revelations on US internet surveillance, says ICSPA

The world needs to reset the clock on trust after whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the US Prism internet surveillance programme, according to the International Cyber Security Protection Alliance (ICSPA).

“Governments need to do a better job to help citizens to understand the reasons for conducting internet surveillance, John Lyons, ICSPA chief executive told the ISSE 2013 security conference in Brussels.

They also need to expedite efforts to resolve differences over how the internet is governed and set guidelines for norms of behaviour.

However, Lyons said the argument between those who want an open internet and those who want to control it could “rumble on for decades” particularly in the wake of Snowden’s revelations.

“We need to reset the clock, and at least agree we will not spy on our friends in international organisations such as Nato,” he said.

The ICSPA also believes international organisations need to rally around cyber security-related projects to help rebuild trust and relationships.

We need to reset the clock, and at least agree we will not spy on our friends in international organisations

John Lyons, ICSPA

“Combining international efforts to clamp down on child abuse pornography could help to rebuild relationships and trust between business, law enforcement and governments,” said Lyons.

He called for collaboration on efforts such as the ICSPA’s 2020 Project to help citizens understand cyber threats and take responsibility for their own cyber security.  

Lyons also called for international collaboration in outlawing ignitable currencies such as Bitcoin, which he said are enabling a large proportion of cyber crime.

A recently published report by security firm McAfee, an ICSPA member, revealed that virtual currencies are being used to enable an extremely wide range of crime, including contract killings.

“The perceived anonymity of virtual currencies is helping drive crime at a scale not seen before,” said Raj Samani, chief technology officer of McAfee Europe and co-author of the report.

Lyons said if US and European financial institutions collaborated, they could shut down virtual currencies such as Bitcoin overnight by requiring all financial transactions to go through auditable channels only.

“This is the safest and most secure way of shutting down funding to criminal groups,” he said.

A fourth way international trust could be restored, said Lyons, is if the US and Europe worked together to extend the principle of seizing the proceeds of crime to the cyber world.

“Seized funds of cyber criminals' organisations could be used to pay compensation to victims, sponsor charities and improve cyber crime fighting capabilities,” he said.

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