The Secretary for Multidimensional Security of the Organization of American States (OAS), Adam Blackwell today opened a forum on “Cyber Security and its Implications for the Economy and the Financial Sector,” at the headquarters of the Organization in Washington DC, urging cooperative efforts at the regional and global level to overcome obstacles to improved cyber security.
In his welcoming remarks, Secretary Blackwell explained that the purpose of the event was to “foster the mutual understanding and relationships that will allow us to bridge the gaps that have persisted in the public and private sectors and even within our respective governments and organizations” in improving cyber security.
The Forum, organized by the OAS, together with the World Economic Forum (WEF), the World Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), brings together more than one hundred participants working in cyber security from OAS member states, civil society organizations, and the private sector, and will produce a set of conclusions to be presented to business and government leaders at a high level regional symposium at the OAS in October, and to world leaders at the WEF annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland in January 2014.
Ambassador Blackwell highlighted that “the advanced use of technology remains the great enabler of our economies and vehicle for innovation; the driver of social inclusion and democratic governance.” For that reason, he said “the OAS has, over the past eight years, been at the forefront of efforts to coordinate regional and national level responses and improvements to our cyber security regimes.”
“Countries know that cooperation is needed to build resilience in our global systems, to mitigate risks, understand attacks and thwart, wherever possible, those who mean us harm,” said Secretary Blackwell. To that end, he added, “our work has benefited all 34 OAS member states and contributed to tangible cyber security capabilities. In 2006 there were six national CSIRTs, or computer security incident response teams, in the Americas. Today there are more than 18. And the OAS has played a fundamental role in mentoring and assisting all of them.”
Derek O´Halloran, head of Information Technology Industry for the WEF, highlighted three points to contextualize the forum. First, he said, “as a region, the Americas is emerging as a leader, and I think the OAS has a big part to play in that, as do all the member states and partners here today.” Secondly, he emphasized the need to “move from a focus on individual readiness and individual capacities to thinking about true collaboration across all domains.” Finally, said O’Halloran, the forum “is about connecting the dialogue at the global, regional and national levels.”
The keynote speaker for the forum, Chris Vein, the Chief Innovation Officer for Global Information and Communications Technology at the World Bank, said that cyber security is “arguably the most important issue in development.” He noted that 73 percent of all projects within the Bank have Information and Communications Technology (ICT) components embedded in them, a number he esteemed would “grow quickly to 100 percent of every bank loan and project the World Bank is financing around the world.”
Vein recalled the recent theft of some $45 million by an international network of hackers, a crime referred to by authorities as a “modern day bank heist.” “This kind of activity,” he said, “provides a loss of confidence in markets, affects intellectual property and financial assets and therefore has a direct impact on economic growth and development. This isn’t therefore a problem just for the United States or the European Union or Japan; it affects countries like Myanmar, Tanzania, and India.”
For that reason, he explained, the World Bank is financing national CSIRTs, helping to build cyber security policy and regulatory frameworks, and helping to build cyber security awareness and capacity in countries including Sri Lanka, Mongolia, India and Tanzania.
In conclusion, Vein noted that “from our perspective, interoperability is crucial. When we look toward global solutions for cyber security, the need to have a global set of standards and interoperable tools becomes very important.” “Partnerships are crucial – no one of us can do this by ourselves,” he added.
A gallery of photos of the event is available here.
For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org